A volunteer talking to the youths at the Youth Rally in Rocton, Ontario. Photo/Courtesy of Archdiocese of Hamilton

Youth Rally igniting the flame of mercy with young people

By  Steven Travale, Youth Speak News
  • May 26, 2016

Hundreds of youth between Grades 7-12 from across Southwestern Ontario gathered on May 21at C.Y.O. Camp Brebeuf in Rockton, Ont. for the first annual youth rally organized by the Diocese of Hamilton.

The highlight of the day and star attraction was renowned speaker and Catholic nun Sr. Miriam James Heidland of the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity.

Her keynote address was preceded by a pump-up music performance from Canadian Catholic musician Chris Bray.

“We are so blessed to have had both of these amazing Catholic witnesses with us at our first diocesan rally to share their wisdom and dynamic message with us!” said Christina Mines, director of the Office of Youth Ministry for the Hamilton Diocese.

“Many of the young people who have registered for our rally have shared testimony of how both Chris and Sr. Miriam have impacted their faith.”

Mines organized the event along with Sarah Guinta, director of the Office of Justice and Peace. Guinta and Mines were both thrilled with the success of the Year of Mercy Youth Rally.

“The main goal of this event has been to engage our diocesan youth,” said Guinta. “We wanted to create an opportunity for youth in this diocese that was physically and financially accessible as well as geared toward content that young people can relate to.”

Throughout the day, the teens participated in workshops which focused on issues of ecological justice, youth homelessness and oppression.

“Our workshops were run by organizations that excel in community development,” said Guinta. “The fact that we are also tying in the Year of Mercy with workshops that focus on organizations that exemplify social justice and sustainable development models offers tangible takeaways for both youth and adult.”

The group congregated for a celebration of the Eucharist by Hamilton Bishop Douglas Crosby. A BBQ dinner followed the Mass and, in classic Camp Brebeuf fashion, fellowship and a campfire rounded off the day’s activities.

Guinta said the rally, while a great success, was just the beginning. She and Mines are talking with local school boards about future student retreats. Mines said she hopes to keep the flame alive post-rally through discussions in youth groups within schools and parishes.

“I hope that this rally inspires parishes to infuse the energy of our youth into all that they do for the remainder of this jubilee year,” said Mines. “Through our diocesan rally we have the opportunity to not only reflect together on what it means to be merciful to one another and with ourselves, but then send the young people of the diocese forth to proclaim the mercy of God and to be present to our brothers and sisters in need.”

(Travale, 17, is a Grade 12 student at Sacred Heart High School in Walkerton, Ont.)

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