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Archives Teens share fun, faith at annual Youth Rally

May 1, 2024

By Darcy Fargo

Though it was a Saturday and school was not in session, Trinity Catholic in Massena was full of youthful laughter on April 20, as youth from around the diocese gathered for the annual Youth Rally.

Starting with ice breaker games and ending with Mass, the youth had a full day of faith and fun centered around this year’s theme, “Walking in Faith.”

“It’s cool meeting other Catholic kids from other schools,” said Emma Riutta, 13, from St. James Church in Gouverneur. “Everyone’s really nice. I feel like it’s good to be around people who share our faith. In today’s world, middle school kids find ways to make jokes about faith or talk down on it, so it’s nice to be in a place where everyone has that in common.”

“I found out my cousin was going, and I knew it would be fun,” said Eloise Schrader-Stark, 13, of St. Mary’s of the Fort in Fort Covington. “Things like this encourage me to keep going in my faith and to stay in Church.”

Schrader-Stark, Riutta and Garrison White, 15, of Gouverneur, all agreed that the ice breaker games and other games were their favorite part of the rally.

“I liked the game with cards,” White said. “We all had cards with questions on them, and we went around asking the questions.”

Schrader-Stark said she preferred a game that involved discovering similarities with other Youth Rally participants.

“We had a list with the names of everyone here, and we had to go around and ask questions and try to find something you have in common,” she said. “You had to try to get something in common with everyone. It was fun.”

In addition to games, the Youth Rally included three shorter presentations instead of one, long keynote address. Speakers were Sister Jaquiline Mary Sellapan of the Sisters of the Cross of Chavanod in Cadyville, Father Leagon Carlin, parochial vicar for St. Peter’s Parish in Massena, and Anita Soltero, director of the diocesan Office of Youth Ministry.

According to Soltero, Sister Jaquiline spoke about having faith the size of a mustard seed, which can grow into a large tree if cared for and nurtured. She encouraged the youth to nurture their faith with prayer, sacraments, the Eucharist and by serving and loving others.

Father Carlin discussed faith and hope, reminding the youth that faith is a lifelong journey.

Soltero used a video from popular Catholic speaker, podcaster and YouTuber content creator Father Mike Schmitz. The video was focused on a man from China, who was imprisoned and tortured after hosting a Mass in his home, but who would not give authorities information about the celebrating priest.

Soltero used the video to demonstrate to the youth that “it only takes one person to be courageous and stand up for the faith, and that’s what we ask of our young people – to stay strong in their faith, to be the courageous one.”

Bishop Terry R. LaValley celebrated the closing Mass at Sacred Heart Church, part of St. Peter’s Parish in Massena. Teens from the youth rally served as lectors and altar servers at the Mass.

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