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Archives Youth rally participants urged to ‘Rise Up’

April 17, 2019

By Darcy Fargo

MASSENA – Youth from around the diocese were urged to “Rise Up,” as they gathered April 6 for the annual Youth Rallydiocesan youth rally.

Kevin Dowd, this year’s keynote speaker, led with a story of a master musician who was diagnosed with a terminal illness while composing what he intended as his masterpiece. The musician asked his students, students he loved like family, to finish the work he started.

“The students didn’t know how to react,” Dowd said. “Their teacher was a world class musician. They weren’t the same caliber; they didn’t have the same talents he had. On the other hand, it was his last request, so they agreed.”

When the master died, the students grieved deeply.

“But they remembered their promise. They remembered what they had agreed to do,” Dowd said. “They pulled together all his notes, everything he had been working on. They continued to work together, gather together and ask ‘what would he want here? What would he want this to be?’”

The piece was then performed in front of a massive audience.

“When the music started and the performance began, it was beautiful; It was profound,” Dowd said. “It was a masterpiece. Around two-thirds of the way through, the conductor put down his baton, and the music stopped. It was dead quiet in the music hall. In that quiet, the conductor walked onto the stage and into spotlight. In the spotlight, you could see tears running down his cheek. Youth RallyHe said to the crowd, ‘at this point in the music, the master died.’ A smile lit up his face. He went on to say, ‘the students have finished the work, and we want you to hear what we have written in his honor, in his memory, in his tribute.’”

When the last note was played, the crowd rose to its feet in a standing ovation that lasted several minutes.
“That was Toscanini’s performance of Puccini ‘Turandot,’” Dowd said. “It’s considered one of the greatest moments in music history.”

Dowd equated the story to Jesus and his followers, including to the present day.

“Jesus says to us, ‘if I die before the work is finished, will you finish my work?’ And for 2000 years, people have been saying ‘Yes. I will. I will accept that challenge,’” he said.

Dowd challenged the youth to take up the challenge, and the be beacons of Christ to the world. He encouraged the youth to stand up in the face of evil, bullying, hurt, sadness, hunger, illness and anywhere people are in need.

“Who in your life is being bullied? Who are the people who aren’t treated like they’re really human? If you know someone, Jesus is asking you, will you finish my work?” Dowd said.

The rally also included a presentation by Marihon Alzuhairi, a two-time refugee, who shared the story of his escape first from Iraq and later from Syria. The event also featured a segment of social and fun events, including a climbing wall, arts and crafts, glow play and a photo booth. The youth also had opportunities to pray in front of the Blessed Sacrament in adoration.

Various diocesan departments and organizations also set up displays at the rally, handing out gifts and offering games and activities for the youth.

The event concluded with Mass, with Bishop Terry R. LaValley celebrating.

Bishop LaValley echoed the “Rise Up” theme of the event and urged the youth to be sources of joy and action in challenging times.

“There is always something we can do in the lives of other persons to help transform their daily little deaths into new life,” Bishop LaValley said. “There is always something we can do because there are no limits to our power to love.”

Lacie Robideau, 14, of Malone, said she enjoyed the event. “It’s been pretty fun,” she said. “I enjoyed the talk by the keynote speaker.”

“Everyone is very nice,” added Sierrah Avery-Durant, 14, of Malone. “I’m looking forward to the snowball war and the glow stick art.”

Anthony Semeraro, 12, of Keeseville, used lunch as an opportunity to meet new people, sitting with Tyler Scott, 15, who attends Edwards-Knox school.

“I’m really glad I got to come,” Semeraro said. “I wanted to hear the speakers, see the games and spend some time in Adoration.”

“It’s a good opportunity to meet new people,” said Scott. “It’s been fun.

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