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Youth Share Ideas, Concerns at Youth Congress2010

03/29/2010

More than 150 youth and adults gathered at the Diocesan Pastoral Center in Gaylord for Youth Congress2010 in March. The primary purpose for the event was to hear directly from the youth about how the Church might better serve them as well as ways the youth might employ their own gifts in service to the Lord. Youth Congress2010 was also planned to lay a foundation for the establishment of a Gaylord Diocesan Youth Council which will provide ongoing input regarding youth concerns in the Diocese of Gaylord. The day began with an opening prayer led by Geralyn Kohler from St. Ann in Cadillac. Youth had been invited to participate in a ministry action called “Set One Aside” in which they were asked to set one dollar aside with the proceeds going to a charitable organization within our diocese selected by the youth. This donation was received during the opening prayer with the Diocese of Gaylord matching the contributions given by the youth. Upon the recommendations of the youth, the Goodwill Inn Homeless Shelter, the Fr. Fred Foundation and the Immaculate Conception Food Pantry each received a check in the amount of $82 in the name of the youth of the Diocese of Gaylord. Bishop Bernard Hebda then addressed the participants. Using the faith and witness of Mary, John, Samuel and others from the Sacred Scriptures, Bishop Hebda illustrated that young people have always had a special role in carrying out God’s plan. He encouraged them to use their gifts and to seek out how God is calling them. Bishop Hebda shared the story of his personal journey to the priesthood and how he first heard his call when he was very young, with an inner pull that he continued to feel throughout his youth and young adult years. He served as an altar server and went to daily Mass. “I think I prayed best when I was young,” the Bishop said. Though he wanted to enter seminary early on, his parents encouraged him to wait, assuring him that if his call was indeed to the priesthood, that call would still be there when he was older. And it was. Though his journey included a number of twists and turns, ultimately the call that Bishop Hebda had heard in his youth to serve the Lord as a priest, discerned through prayer and experience, was his true call. He reminded the youth who had gathered from throughout the diocese that God has a unique plan for each of them as well and encouraged them to pray and to listen for God’s call in their lives. Bishop Hebda further explained that the youth are not just the leaders of the future, but important members of the Church now, who have an essential voice and mission in the efforts of the Catholic Church in the Diocese of Gaylord to share Christ’s love and the Gospel message. Following the Bishop’s presentation, students participated in small group sessions led by young adults, mostly alumni of the Christian Leadership Institute (CLI). In these round table discussions, youth were asked to reflect upon three questions: If your best friend asked you why you are Catholic, what would you say? We believe we are created in the image of God and God has created each of us with certain gifts. What are your gifts? What can the Catholic Church do to respond to your wants and needs? Ideas and concerns shared within each group were compiled and during lunch the youth had an opportunity to vote on those matters of highest importance in order to given direction to future efforts of the diocese. (See tory below.) While youth participated in the first break-out sessions, adults were invited to take part in a separate session highlighting communications skills and how to utilize the Pastoral Circle as a model for exploring issues and topics. The four steps to the Pastoral Circle model include Awareness, Analysis, Reflection and Action . Adults and youth gathered together for the afternoon roundtables. Groups were divided by region and asked to identify the top three needs in their particular vicariate and to develop an action plan to implement them. These concerns will be provided to the soon to be formed Gaylord Diocesan Youth Council who will continue to review and refine a plan for implementation. A final full session offered an open forum for questions for Bishop Hebda where he answered a number of questions ranging from “What is it you actually do on a day to day basis as a Bishop?” to “How is a Bishop selected?” to “What do the symbols on your Coat of Arms mean?” Youth Congress2010 concluded with a Eucharistic Liturgy, with Bishop Hebda presiding and Fr. Donald Geyman and Fr. Bernie Tyler concelebrating. Deacon Glen Painter served as the Deacon for the Mass. According to Dannie Brzezinski, Director of the Secretariat for Faith Development which planned the event, “ Youth Congress2010 was a day of prayer, worship, music, challenge, affirmation and friendships. It has provided a new beginning and direction in youth ministry as we began to build for the future and particularly as we begin to form the Gaylord Diocesan Youth Council. I am very grateful to everyone who helped carry out the vision for this day and especially to the youth for their enthusiastic participation.” Youth Congress2010 was funded in part by gifts to the annual Catholic Services Appeal.

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