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Spiritual renewal woven through all aspects of national youth ministry conference

January 06, 2015 | posted by Jordan McMorrough

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Spiritual renewal woven through all aspects of national youth ministry conference

A focal point of the National Conference for Catholic Youth Ministry, held in San Antonio Dec. 4-6, was the opening Mass to “Ready the Way of the Lord,” celebrated by Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller, MSpS, in the Lila Cockrell Theater Dec. 4.

“Dear people of God; dear young people: WELCOME! Bienvenidos! Vitamen! San Antonio opens his arms to you and the archdiocese opens her heart to each and all of you,” began the archbishop to the 2,500 youth ministers from around the country gathered in the Alamo City. He then repeated in Spanish, “La Arquidiocesis of San Antonio les abre el Corazon. Bienvenidos!”

He quoted from a Psalm, “It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes.”

“Why?” asked Archbishop Gustavo, who answered in reply, “Because you have come here to learn how to more fully and faithfully minister to the youth that God has entrusted to you, and the first task is to recall in whom it is we place our trust.”

The prelate explained that, since the beginning, humans have been forgetting the power of God and placing their trust in other forces.

“This is no different in youth ministry. We put our trust in our own powers and skills, in programming, in research, in beautiful environments, in great music, and in time-tested practices,” he acknowledged. “These are all wonderful things! Throughout this conference you will be exposed to new ideas and new practices that will be of great help to your ministry and to the lives of your youth. But we must remember the first step: to trust in the Lord. Confiar en el Señor.”

Then, looking skyward, Archbishop Gustavo raised his right hand past his head, pointed above, and recited the phrase “El, El, El, (God, God, God),” a mantra he asked the capacity audience to repeat, and an expression he would go back to time and again in his homily.

“No program, ministry, or venture can succeed if it is not built on a solid foundation. For us who believe in Christ Jesus, the only foundation that matters is the Lord himself, the rock of our salvation. El, El, El,” said the archbishop and listeners in unison. “Jesus’ well-known parable of the house built on rock and the house built on sand is such a powerful image, and is one I hope you take with you throughout your time here in San Antonio at this conference.”

In a homily last month, the Holy Father, Pope Francis, stated this truth clearly. He spoke of the mystery of the empty tomb saying, “The foundation, the rock, is there. Not in ‘persuasive discourses of wisdom,’ but in the living Word of the Cross and of the Resurrection of Jesus.”

Archbishop Gustavo built upon the pontiff’s message, telling attendees that while they were here to build skills and learn new methods with which to reach out to youth, to also remember the foundation on which these things are built.

“As youth ministers, it is not your work to simply teach about the faith; it is your work to truly share the experience of faith to our younger brothers and sisters, to help them build their lives on the rock of Jesus Christ. Nothing can take the place of the joyful and attracting witness to faith in Jesus Christ. Help build our young disciples on the rock!” the archbishop stressed. “Build on rock! For no one can begin anything good unless one begins it from Christ. He is the foundation of all that is good! El, El, El.”

Alluding to the fact that the conference was being held during the season of Advent, Archbishop Gustavo asked the youth ministers to take the following words from the Psalms to heart in their own life of discipleship, “Blessed is he, blessed is she, who comes in the name of the Lord.”

“As Christians and as ministers, we must be people who come not to bring our own message, but rather people who come in the name of the Lord to share our lives of faith,” said the archbishop. “Entrust the youth he has placed before you to him, and trust that he is working in their lives. El, El, El.”

The Missionary of the Holy Spirit told the visitors from around the United States about the consecration of the Archdiocese of San Antonio to the Holy Spirit.

“I urge you all to join us in this trust of the Holy Spirit, our God, as you carry out the work of serving and forming young disciples. The Holy Spirit will guide you and support you and your youth. Remember,” he pointed out, “the same Holy Spirit is not only working in you but in those that you serve. We cannot say truly Lord, Lord, if is not by the power of the Holy Spirit. Call upon the Spirit so that together we may do the will of our heavenly Father.”

Lastly, Archbishop Gustavo prayed that Mary, Our Lady of Guadalupe, help with her prayers to trust in the Lord. “Trust in him at all times! El, El, El.He is the rock of our salvation! El, El, El. Build the youth you serve on Christ! El, El, El.”

In addition to the opening Mass, the archbishop also spoke at two inaugural events hosted by the NCCYM, a Spanish conference, “Convocatoria Nacional Para Líderes de la Pastoral Juvenil Hispana,” and the Catholic Parent Revival.