Hamilton youth rally kicks off the day conference with a praise and worship music session. Youth director Christina Mines said it has been a highlight for participants this year and last year. Photo by Jason Taylor, Diocese of Hamilton

Youth rally bears fruit for Hamilton

By  Mae Fernandes, Youth Speak News
  • June 9, 2017

With the success of this year’s event, the Hamilton Diocese youth rally may become an annual affair.

“Our phone and email have been exploding,” said Christina Mines, youth ministry director for the diocese. “The energy out there was that it was a very well-planned and well-executed event, and that it was a terrific experience for the youth.”

For more than 400 youth from Grades 7-12 in the Diocese of Hamilton, the youth rally on June 3 was a special opportunity to celebrate as one Catholic community.

The rally, held at CYO Camp Brebeuf in Rockwood, was the second to be held by the diocese. The first took place last May and focused on the Year of Mercy.

Mines said the youth office has received great feedback from youth, youth ministers and parents. As a result, the diocese may look into making the youth rally a regular summer event.

“That’s our hope and desire,” said Mines. “It’s a chance to come and pray together and to celebrate together what it means to be a vibrant Catholic community. Whenever we gather together youth in the Spirit of Christ, it brings forth great fruit.”

The rally, whose theme was “All are Welcome,” included live music, speakers and workshops, and more.

“My dear young people, you are young, you are energetic, you have great ideas, you have ideals, and you are good,” said Hamilton Bishop Douglas Crosby at the closing Mass. “Use the gifts and talents God has given you for doing good. Do good, just as Jesus did good.”

The keynote speaker was Michael Chiasson from Access52 Ministries in Calgary. He saw the theme as highlighting how each of us is unique and is called to use our gifts for the Church. Chiasson led the “rally up,” the time of worship music which kicked off the day.

Mines said the music was a highlight for her. “Just getting all the young people up on their feet, dancing singing, and praising the Lord,” she said.

The youth had a choice of two of six workshops offered in the afternoon.

One was a vocations workshop led by Sr. Teresa Joseph, vocations director for the Sisters of Our Lady Immaculate (SOLIs), and seminarian Gregory Merkley. Entitled “Called by name,” it focused on youth discovering themselves as beloved and finding their “unique God-given adventure.”

Yvonne Runstadler, a Catholic school teacher, led a workshop on the concept of pilgrimage and her own experience of walking the Camino de Santiago.

A new aspect of this year’s rally was an exhibitor fair featuring organizations throughout the diocese which involve youth, including Newman Centre Guelph, Development and Peace, and L’Arche Hamilton.

“I hope you will go home convinced that God loves you deeply and cares for your wellbeing,” said Crosby. “I hope that knowledge will wipe away all fear, all timidity or shyness and make you joyful and confident young people so that you can share your faith in Jesus with everyone who needs to know about God’s love for them.”

The day ended with a barbecue and campfire. Youth from each deanery released a Chinese lantern representing their part of the diocese into the sky.

“It was an incredible day. Just the energy felt all day long was inspiring,” said Mines.

(Fernandes, 17, is a Grade 12 homeschool student in Dundalk, Ont.)

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