Encounter Youth Rally

On Saturday March 2, the Encounter Faith Youth Rally was held at the Catholic Center in Shreveport. Musical leader Aaron Thompson captivated his audience with his heartfelt praise and contagious spirit. His musicianship is truly a gift from God as he ministered to us with piano and guitar. It was exciting to see Aaron on stage in front of an audience of nearly 300. Not only was he a great speaker, but Aaron brought a sincere form of worship during the Mass with Bishop Michael Duca.

The breakout sessions were a high point of the day as well. Our own Superintendant of Catholics Schools, Sr. Carol Shively, OSU, addressed one of the most challenging struggles that our children face today: bullying and cyber bullying. Her sessions were specifically targeted to our middle school youth to help prepare them for the world of social media that exists all around them.

Fr. Mark Watson, Pastor of St. Patrick and Sacred Heart churches, reinforced one of our greatest treasures to the students: the Eucharist. Christ with us is always the answer to the obstacles we face in life. Father has a genuinely peaceful disposition that endears him to everyone he meets and he was a great blessing to our lineup.

We explored the scriptures that day with Fr. Joseph Ampatt, pastor of Mary, Queen of Peace Church. His extensive biblical studies and background brought a rich flavor to this session. Scripture study has long been recognized by the Church as essential to grow in Christ. St. Jerome told us that ignorance of scripture is ignorance of Christ.

Works of Mercy were brought to us by Joseph Seyler, a Mental Health Advocacy Attorney with the heart of a Jesuit. Mr. Seyler spent eight years with the Jesuits in Grand Coteau, LA. Well educated in English, philosophy and law, Mr. Seyler shared his great experiences with us.

Our Church Vocations session was brought to us by Vocations Director Fr. Matthew Long and Sr. Margaret Mitchell, Superior for the Sisters of Our Lady of Sorrows. Both are uniquely gifted and complemented each other throughout the day as they encouraged our young people to take the time and ask the question, “Is God calling you?”

Pablo Ortega delivered two great sessions, one in English and one in Spanish, to our youth. Not only is Pablo wonderful in his outreach, but his passion is infectious! His second presentation was filled to standing room only. I am ever so thankful for the work he did that day as I am proud of all who gave their time and participated.

None of this would have been possible without the vision and blessing of Bishop Michael Duca. I would like to graciously thank many others as well. The Knights of Columbus (Broadmoor Council No. 3407) provided lunch. I want to especially thank Aaron and all our speakers, our Hispanic Ministry, Blake Royal for his great technical expertise and assistance, all of the support staff from registration to hosting, to the Catholic Center Facilities staff who worked tirelessly to make this day work well. Thanks to all of our youth leaders, workers, chaperones and students that give so much to Christ and this diocese; a great blessing indeed! Thanks to St. Joseph Federal Credit Union for sponsorship, and all the others who brought Encounter Faith to life.

by John Vining, Director of Youth & Young Adult Ministry

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