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​Learn from others, but be yourself, teens hear at Youth Spectacular

April 27, 2021 | posted by Today's Catholic newspaper

Topics: Archbishop, In the Press, Breaking News

Learn from others, but be yourself, teens hear at Youth Spectacular

In a year where everything changed, the love of God remains! The call to continue Walking in the Way of Love seems stronger than ever, and the youth are responding! To celebrate the resilience of the young Catholic teens of our communities, the Archdiocese of San Antonio invited all middle school and high school teens and their families to Youth Spectacular 2021, held March 10.

The event took originated from Our Lady’s Chapel at Assumption Seminary, with teens also gathering at several satellite locations across the archdiocese – including four highlighted remote locations at St. Peter the Apostle in Boerne, St. Luke Parish, St. Gerard Catholic School, and Holy Name Catholic School -- as well as taking part from their homes.

Emcees for the event were Jessica Lubianski and P. J. Lozano. Lubianski is a youth minister at St. Jerome Church in Martinez as well as host for the “Veritas” program on archdiocesan social media. Lozano was a youth minister out at St. Peter’s in Boerne for five years before entering full-time missions with his family in Haiti in 2015. Over the last few years, he served with Life Teen International and now serves as the recruiter for Ablaze Ministries in Bryan.

Archdiocesan Secretariat Director for Christian Community Lizett Farias began the conference by welcoming participants online and thanking the presence of the studio audience while announcing the theme of Walking in the Way of Love.

She encourage all to enjoy the day and prayerfully and actively participate in the activities. In order to do that, prior to the event the teens received party hats, crazy hats, party favors, a St. Joseph card, rosary, candle, and Bible.

Participants engaged by sending text messages with the word YS2021 to number XYZAB, also via the chat in YouTube Channel of CTSA Catholic Television of San Antonio, and by leaving a voice mail at the Youth Spectacular 2021 hotline.

Youtth also took part in an altar contest in which they took a picture of themselves and their altar at home and sentit to the live media wall. Winners were announced at the end of the day and prizes included T-shirts, water bottles, and gift cards to Chick-fil-A.

A youth leadership team assisted the emcees in leading the day. Annica Casas of St. James the Apostle prayed the St. Joseph prayer with studio audience and those connected online and Isabelle Donley of St. Francis of Assisi shared testimony of what her experience has been during COVID and her relationship with God and how she has remained strong in the faith.

Galo Gutierrez, Jr. and his band from St. Dominic Church invited the online audience to sing-along as they saw song lyrics on their screens.

“I can feel the Holy Spirit alive and active today. What is really cool to think about is that the Holy Spirit is really moving throughout our entire archdiocese today in our parishes for those who are gathered in a group, those who are at their home by themselves or with their family virtually through different media outlets and through our local CTSA,” said Lubianski.

An interactive video wall from POLLEVERYWHERE with submissions from Kahoot featured rounds of “Who said this?” with Jesus / Mother Teresa / Kanye West as the answers. Teens held big sticker heads as props while awaiting the correct replies. Among the Q&A:

  • “Do not give what is holy to dogs, or throw your pearls before swine, lest they trample them underfoot, and turn and tear you to pieces.” Answer: Jesus
  • “Love cannot remain by itself -- it has no meaning. Love has to be put into action, and that action is service.” Answer: Mother Theresa
  • “I feel that I’m very blessed. But with great blessings come great responsibility.” Answer: Kanye West
  • “If you judge people, you have no time to love them.” Answer: Mother Theresa
  • “And all of you are children of the Most High. But you shall die like men and fall like one of the princes.” Answer: Kanye West

A reflection on “Walking in the Way of Love” was given by Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller, MSpS. “Jesus’ walk to Calvary teaches us to surrender to God and give life to others. Love even when we are different, even when things get difficult and even in the uncertainty of our times,” said the archbishop. “Compassion and kindness for each other can be the pillars in our walk of love. Young people have a voice, we hear you and will continue to hear you!”

In person participants and those at the satellite locations had the opportunity to ask questions of the archbishop following his presentation. These included:

  • As a young person, how did you walk in love?
  • How can we treat each other with respect when we are all so different?
  • What is one of the big challenges you have to love others in your ministry as pastor to many different people?
  • Can you share an experience from your youth when it was difficult to follow God and how you overcame that difficulty?
  • What are some positive things you have experienced since the pandemic started?
  • What do you do to stay motivated and energetic even when you are feeling defeated or uncertain about the future?

Reflection questions were provided to the participants after reading Ephesians 1. Some in the audience and in the satellite locations shared their insights and others were invited to share their thoughts through text messages and voice mails. Questions were:

  • What does Walking in the Way of Love mean for you as a young Catholic in our world today?
  • How did Jesus exemplify Walking in the Way of Love? Can you give some examples of what stories in the Bible show us what love is and what it means to always love others?
  • As part of a family, what one or two concrete things can I do in daily life to be more intentional in Walking in the Way of Love?
  • In what ways can I accompany others in their own walk of faith and love?
  • As a parish community we are also called to be continuously Walking in the Way of Love. How are we doing this? In what ways can we be more intentional as we serve and love one another in our parish community?

Irma Alvardo of St. Bonaventure Church was honored with the Kelly Vasquez Youth Ministry Award and seminarian Luis de la Cruz and Salesian religious aspirant Rose Enyeart shared their testimony about discerning vocations to the priesthood and religious life, respectively. They also prayed a decade for the rosary.

Following the rosary, Auxiliary Bishop Michael Boulette processed in with the monstrance and Blessed Sacrament while all in-person audience kneel reverently for the Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and a reflection talk about the Eucharist.

At the conclusion of the day Lubianski shared, “Thank you to our satellite locations and our amazing teens joining us in person. I can see how God is moving through each of you and it is just inspiring to hear our young Church really on fire to go out and spread the Gospel.”