By STEPHEN O'KANE, Staff Writer | Published June 21, 2012
In a blend of entertaining and spiritual messages, the Revive! young adult track at this year’s Eucharistic Congress placed special emphasis on the role that young adults have in continuing the Catholic Church’s mission.
As many young adults often struggle to find their place in the faith and discover what they have to offer the Church, Revive! speakers encouraged those present to embrace their roles as protectors and defenders of the faith as the church continues to move forward in the 21st century.
Young adults came from around the archdiocese and beyond to experience an uplifting and spiritually engaging evening at Revive! on Friday, June 8. The track has become one of the staple kick-off events of the annual Eucharistic Congress. Revive! was held in the ballroom of the Marriott Hotel adjacent to the Georgia International Convention Center.
Many of the speakers, also featured in the next day’s congress program, gave a preview version of their talks during the Revive! track, adapting them specifically with young adults in mind, as the speakers shared their own stories and encouraged young adults to engage the culture and their peers in spiritual dialogue.
“God has a plan for you at this Eucharistic Congress,” Mother M. Assumpta Long told the crowd of over 300.
Mother Assumpta, the prioress general of the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, in Ann Arbor, Mich., spoke at Revive! on Friday and in the English track on Saturday. She told the young adults in attendance that they should not be afraid to express and share their faith and that the future of the Church rests in their hands.
“We’re going to look to the youth,” she said. “We’re depending on you to change this crazy culture we’re in.”
“Do not be afraid,” she continued. “Change the world. It’s up to you.”
Mother Assumpta encouraged the young adults to seek out and discover their gifts so they may put them to use for Christ and his church. Whatever you have, give to the Lord, she said.
The young adults were guided by emcee Father Michael Silloway, parochial vicar at the Cathedral of Christ the King, and Jon Ferguson of St. Catherine of Siena Church, Kennesaw, whose band provided praise and worship music throughout the evening.
Other speakers and guests supported Mother Assumpta’s comments, emphasizing the importance of the younger generation’s influence on how the church is viewed and expressed in mainstream society.
The Fellowship of Catholic University Students, known as FOCUS, had an information table set up at Revive!, and a representative from the group, Brian Lee, also spoke to the young adults, sharing stories from his experiences as a domestic missionary here in the U.S.
“I want to encourage and empower you to … be not afraid,” Lee told the young adults. Sometimes young adults are uncomfortable sharing their faith, but if the Gospel truly inspires you, don’t be afraid to get out there and share that message, he said.
A member of NET Ministries, Ryan Lopez, also addressed the teens with stories of his work as a missionary. NET Ministries recruits young adults ages 18 to 28, to leave behind their jobs, school, family and friends to devote nine months to serving with the National Evangelization Teams (NET) that travel the country. The apostolate helps train youth ministry leaders, holds retreats for teenagers and provides various formation opportunities for young adults.
“Each year we reach about 60,000 young people. We travel hundreds of thousands of miles just proclaiming the Gospel,” Lopez said. While the teams do not travel abroad, Lopez said the sacrifice of leaving everything behind for nine months is a powerful tool to strengthen a relationship with God.
The evening’s keynote speaker, Father Leo Patalinghug, took time to address the role of young adults as well, expressing the power this generation has, as well as the responsibility that goes along with that power.
Father Patalinghug currently directs the pastoral field education program for Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md. Also known as the “cooking priest,” he has worked in publishing and television with a focus on the importance of bringing families together around meals. A missionary in his own way, Father Patalinghug entertained and challenged the crowd to recognize the positive influence they can have on society.
“You can actually become powerful yourself, if you are willing to do something: submit your power to God. Put your gifts, your talents in God’s hands,” Father Patalinghug said. “A missionary is someone who has to be obedient because they go where they are sent, they go where they are called.”
Father Patalinghug encouraged the young adults to emulate the Holy Father in his fearlessness of reaching out to others in love and holiness. “What does the Holy Father do? ” asked Father Patalinghug. “He’s constantly going out, trying to make saints of others.”
“Your job, brothers and sisters, is to make the power of God felt, by the choices you make,” Father Patalinghug said. “And if there is a choice that I want you to make right now it is to do what all the saints and all the prophets said to God the almighty father. … ‘Lord, I give myself to you.’”
During the evening, the young adults had the opportunity to pray before the Blessed Sacrament, which was processed in by Father Liam Cummins, a native of Ireland and a Mill Hill Missionary in Africa for the last 20 years.
After some time spent before the Eucharist, Father Cummins shared a few thoughts with the young adults, encouraging them in their journey and their relationship with Christ.
“Jesus constantly tried to encourage people to know … who they were. And what they were was beloved children of God,” said Father Cummins. “We gather this evening around the Blessed Sacrament in this wonderful place, and we gather around each other, listening to one another, as beloved children of God.”
“We gather because of our love for Jesus, for God,” he said.
The reverent sound of “Tantum Ergo” sung a cappella filled the ballroom before Father Cummins carried the Eucharist out to the sounds of Ferguson and the band.
The evening ended with a performance and brief talk from Pip Arnold, a young Catholic from St. Joseph Church, Marietta, who recently gained recognition from his appearances on the NBC reality singing competition show, “The Voice.”
“Tonight was awesome,” said Heather Kraft, a member of Holy Trinity Church in Peachtree City. She was attending Revive! for the first time this year after friends from her parish told her what a great experience they had the previous year.
“It was a lot of fun and very moving to see so many people enjoying the Eucharist and focused on the whole reason we are Catholic,” she said.
“I enjoyed hearing about everyone’s different experiences, their different ways that they’ve reached where they are in their life,” Jessica Burke said of the Revive! track. Burke, also from Holy Trinity, was attending Revive! for the first time.
Revive! blended both entertaining and reverent expressions of faith, emphasizing the missionary role of the church and how young adults are called to serve the church through their lives and their actions. For John Huynh, who is the director of youth and young adult ministry for the archdiocesan Office of Formation and Discipleship, the hard work and planning paid off in full.
“Thanks to the Office of Formation and Discipleship team, and the guidance of the Eucharistic Congress steering committee, the Revive! track was a hit,” wrote Huynh by email following the event. “With Father Leo as the main speaker and Father Michael as the emcee, the Revive! track catered directly to the young adult community by addressing the theme of missions.”