COLUMBIA — Zany games and ice breakers, breakout groups, dramas and skits, powerful testimonies from high school youth, all topped off with a closing liturgy. The third annual diocesan junior high school rally, entitled “Take One To The Cross,” offered all of the above and more as this year’s retreat-style format filled the gym of St. John Neumann School last Saturday, Nov. 6, with over 350 attendees, an event record.
Keynote presenters for the day were APEX Ministries and Sarah Hart.
APEX Ministries is made up of two young men, Brad Framer and Gene Monterastelli, who used juggling, humor, characterizations, skits and personal storytelling to share what God has done in their lives. Over the last three years, APEX has worked with youth and young adults in over 25 states. Some of the events include the papal visit in St. Louis last January, the National Catholic Youth Conference, and the National Youth Specialities Youth Worker Conference.
Singer Sarah Hart toured last year with such Christian artists as Kathy Troccoli; Wes King; Point of Grace; and Philip’s, Craig and Dean. This year she will be the headliner musical artist at the National Catholic Youth Conference in St. Louis scheduled for later this month.
Hart’s music has been described as having great depth and being very poetic with a sense of what really effects youth.
The rally concluded with a Mass celebrated by Father C. Thomas Miles, associate pastor of St. Joseph’s Parish in Columbia. In his homily, he alluded to the Gospel reading for the day, in which Jesus talked about being prepared.
Father Miles used the year 2000 to discuss how some people are afraid the world will come to an end, but the recently ordained priest emphasized that no one knows the day or hour that will occur. “Jesus is trying to say to us in the Gospel that it’s up to each of us to be prepared. That responsibility belongs to each and every one of us.”
Helping and encouraging each other to spread the Good News was also stressed by Father Miles. “Do you choose Jesus or do you choose the world? We’re here to help you make the right choices and stand firm in those choices against peer pressure.”
In an effort to help the youth recommit themselves to making the right choice, “What Would Jesus Do?” bracelets were distributed to the attendees before the end of the homily. Prior to the conclusion of the liturgy, the teens all had a small cross painted on their face while the Communion meditation song “We Are One Body in Christ” was sung.
In closing remarks, Jerry White, diocesan director of Youth and Young Adults Ministry, praised the youth who attended the junior high rally, saying, “You’ve all made a difference here today.”