Youth Rally: “We are in His Hands!”

NEWTOWN– An expression commonly used by the youth of today is “stay woke.” It means “to pay attention, to be awake, to be alert,” as Fr. Joseph Espaillat informed those gathered for Mass as part of the Fan the Fire youth rally on Saturday, 8/10 at St. Rose of Lima Church in Newtown.

More than 300 teens from around the diocese gathered at St. Rose for a day of prayer, fun, and fellowship that helped each participant deepen their relationship with Christ.

The theme for this year’s rally was “Connection.” When asked as to what the inspiration was behind choosing this theme, Rod Blessey, St. Rose’s youth minister and the coordinator of Fan the Fire, said “We are a very diverse diocese. We want to make sure that everybody knows that we are connected through the Eucharist and our faith.”

The teen participants had opportunities to be reminded of this through keynote talks and breakout sessions that focused on our connection to God through scripture, Mary, and the Eucharist. It was an opportunity for them to meet other young people from the diocese and recognize that they are not alone on their journey of faith.

Michelle Demotte, a parishioner of St. Rose and a rising senior at Immaculate High School has been to Fan the Fire three times and said that this year was her favorite. The large turnout was exciting and she was “so happy to see all these people coming to our parish and be able to welcome them.”

As she prepares to start college soon, Michelle said this event has reminded her of the importance of spending time with the people who love her; now is the time to be sure to express her love for them.

Photos by Amy Mortensen

Caroline Taylor (17), a parishioner of St. Pius X and St. Thomas Aquinas Parishes in Fairfield and a student at Lauralton Hall, had a peaceful experience at Fan the Fire. One of her favorite moments was during one of Fr. Joseph’s keynotes, where he just invited everyone to conduct their own prayer.

“I could just feel everyone open to prayer.” She said Fr. Joe talked about how God hides and we must seek him in places we might not expect to find him.

Angela Hite, a chaperone for St. Edward the Confessor’s youth group (New Fairfield), reflected on her hopes for her teens during the rally. Some of her teens were in 8th grade, so this was probably the first time they had ever experienced an event like this before.

She and fellow chaperone Kelly LaRegina hoped that all their teens would open up (which they had already begun to see happen) and start to take their faith into their own hands.

The visual of “hands” was present in Fr. Joseph’s homily at Mass, where he shared a poem called “Whose Hands It’s In.” It spoke of different objects that, when in certain people’s hands, take on new value.

He said that when we carry nails in our hands, they can be used to build something, but when they are in the hands of Christ, they produce our salvation.

Fr. Espaillat reminded the participants that we are in God’s hands, and that when life becomes challenging, we must remember this truth. As Catholics, much is given to us (Jesus Christ, totally present in the Eucharist), and much is expected of us because of this. We must not fear because “we are connected and we are in His hands.”

Participants had opportunities to play games outdoors and enjoy the beautiful weather. The day was concluded with a Eucharistic Holy Hour and procession, where the teens got to be face-to-face with Jesus. Praise and worship music, provided by the St. Rose Youth Band, aided in the prayerful and powerful experience.

This story was written by Michelle P. Onofrio, a Communications Intern for the Diocese of Bridgeport, Office of Communications.