Ever Ancient, Ever New… Ever-Awesome!!
Last Saturday Jason and I spent an incredibly awesome day with 3500+ of our closest friends at Abbey Youth Festival 2011!! Our exhibition booth proved to be very popular as it offered lots of cool FREE STUFF like stickers, buttons, and candy. Check out pics from the event here. Hundreds of participants registered to win a Free Keynote Address for their parish or a Free Source and Summit Ministry dot Com T-shirt. [Winners will be contacted this week via phone or email.]
If you didn’t catch us at the booth you may have seen or heard us on CatholicUnderground.tv or WPYR Baton Rouge Catholic Community Radio. A special thanks to our Road Crew for holding down the fort while we were running around. We couldn’t have done it without you :-)
Missed out on this year’s event?? Here’s a little about what you missed in a sneak preview of my Clarion Herald article about the day:
EVER ANCIENT, EVER NEW & Ever-Awesome!
Secular world got you down? Feeling hopeless? Isolated in your faith? Like you are the only believer surrounded by a world of skeptics and critics? Then you were NOT at Abbey Youth Festival.
Hopelessness and doubt evaporated in the heat of the day as the crowd of 3500+ were unified in song, electrified by fellowship, and lifted up in prayer. Thousands flooded an open field at St. Joseph Abbey and Seminary College in Covington, LA, to join in the glory of the Lord: Ever Ancient, Ever New. As explained by Brian Butler, Director of AYF, “To blend the ancient Benedictine tradition with the New Evangelization of the Church into an experience of God’s love is something that is relevant and touches young people in a profound way and has made Abbey Youth Festival one of the most unique events for young people in the country.” The day which ran from 10am-9pm included music from Matt Maher, BrotherBrother, and Covenant 7, powerful speakers (Judy McDonald, Sr. Miriam James Heidland, Fr. Michael Champagne, and Paul George), exhibitors, anticipated Mass, Vespers, and candlelight Eucharistic Adoration.
Attendees from nine states travelled by the busload to attend the March 26th event. Trey Bennett, 15, of St. Joseph Catholic Church in Gluckstadt, MS, said, “It’s totally awesome being out here all day.” Madeline Cockerham, 16, from St. Alphonsus Catholic Church in Baton Rouge, LA, added, “I got a lot out of this event. My favorite part was Mass because it was fun having everyone together and seeing everyone worship together.”
AYF offers a unique opportunity for those in attendance to meet seminarians studying at both SJASC and Notre Dame Seminary. Kurt Young, seminarian studying for the Archdiocese of New Orleans, said this about the event, “For me it’s very affirming of my vocation. Sometimes it can be kind of depressing when you look at the state of the world, but then you come to events like this and you see so many young people coming to learn more about the faith and it gives me hope for the future.”
Attendees also received keynote addresses from those familiar with discerning and answering God’s call like Father Michael Champagne of the Community of Jesus Crucified in Lafayette, LA, and Sister Miriam James Heidland, of the Society of the Most Holy Trinity in Seattle, WA, who noted, “I want them to know that there is nothing beyond the mercy and redemption of God. A lot of times we look at our lives and say ‘I’m so broken. How could God love me or call me to anything great.’ He’s not afraid of our darkness. He loves us and isn’t afraid to redeem us.” Emily Petry, 15, St. Joseph Catholic Church, in College Station, TX, shared, “It was definitely a lot different than I expected. The speakers’ message was for us [teenagers]!” Her friend Ellie Lipscomb, 15, agreed, “All of the talks really hit me.” Next year’s event, themed Restless, will feature Mark Hart, Executive Vice President of Life Teen.
Archbishop Gregory Aymond, who celebrated the outdoor Mass, commented, “It’s overwhelming to have over 3500 young people here gathering in one place and to see the life and vitality of the young adult church today and to see young people on fire with the love of God, the love of the church, and not afraid to say that they are Catholic and they love their faith in a very expressive way.”
Special musical guest Matt Maher and comedian Judy McDonald, both internationally known, noted the unique gift that Abbey Youth Festival is to the Church. Maher believes that Louisiana is part of what makes this event a standout for him, “I think God has his fingerprint in the culture. The people that settled here were always people of faith. It’s in the food, the hospitality, the music. I love getting to be part of it.” Judy added “Today is cool. I feel so blessed to be able to go from event to event to see the youth of the Church because they’re not the future of the Church they’re the NOW.”
The day ended with Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, the source and summit of the Christian life. Kneeling among the crowd, one could not help but call to mind the experience of the thousands of disciples sitting and listening as a carpenter from Nazareth taught about the Father’s love for them. The candlelit faces of the AYF crowd contained a hope and a wonder that is ever ancient, ever new.
Have a blessed week!