CHARLESTON—Youth may speak a different language than adults at times, but one word they both understand is busy.
That’s why Marie Donnelly, director of youth ministry at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, is making it easy for students to receive the indulgence offered by Pope Benedict XVI during the Year for Priests.
All they have to do to earn a clean slate is come to the Youth for Priests teen pilgrimage April 24 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and participate in each required area.
“Every year God has laid it on my heart to give the kids an opportunity to get the indulgence,” Donnelly said.
In addition to receiving the indulgence, youth will also be treated to a personal look at priests and their life of service.
Father Gregory B. Wilson, rector pro tem at the Cathedral, and Father Jeremi Wodecki, parochial vicar at the Cathedral and St. Mary of the Annunciation, will be on hand during the day, Donnelly said.
“In this day, when very few priests are able to teach in schools, we wanted to reach out during this important year to the youth while they think about their vocations,” Father Wilson said.
“We hope this will help give them a greater understanding and appreciation of the sacred priesthood,” he added.
The event is geared toward grades six through twelve, and like the last pilgrimage for the Year of St. Paul, it will be filled with activity, skits, prayer and movement, Donnelly said. As such, the teens will be moving from place to place throughout the day.
The morning will start with Mass at St. Mary of the Annunciation Church. Afterward, the students will receive their journey bags and split into two groups, with the junior high walking to Pauline Books and Media while the high schoolers move to the church hall.
Youth at the hall will play games and hear from Father Wodecki. Those at the book store will watch a skit about St. Jean-Marie Vianney by students from the College of Charleston. Also, the Daughters of St. Paul will talk about their ministry and how it relates to priests and male religious.
The groups will switch locations and activities, and then everyone will return to the church for benediction and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.
Pope Benedict XVI established the Year for Priests to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the death of St. Vianney. During that time, the faithful have the opportunity to earn a plenary indulgence.
Donnelly said everything required for the indulgence will be provided.
“It’s up to them,” she said. Even if youth don’t make it through all the steps, they can still have a great day and learn while they’re at it, she added.
Pilgrims will have several opportunities to receive the sacrament of reconciliation during the day, and indulgence prayers will be held at the Cathedral just before the last activity: the ice cream social.
Donnelly said she has several ideas that will make the students’ event special, including a T-shirt design that only youth will understand, and adults will have to ask about.
“My plan is for the kids to evangelize just by wearing that shirt,” she said.
For information, call Marie Donnelly at (843) 724-8395 ext. 234.
To obtain the indulgence during the teen pilgrimage for the Year for Priests, students must:
— Attend Mass and offer prayers to “Jesus Christ, supreme and eternal priest, for the priests of the church, or perform any good work to sanctify and mould them to his heart.”
— Go to the sacrament of reconciliation.
— Pray for the intentions of the pope.
A partial indulgence is offered to the faithful when they repeat five times the Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be, or any other duly approved prayer “in honor of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, to ask that priests maintain purity and sanctity of life.”
From the Decree of the Apostolic Penitentiary