By Arlene Edmonds

Special to The CS&T

Showing off the talent of local Catholic youths, engaging in an autumn festival and praying together in a liturgy will all be parts of this year’s local celebration of National World Youth Day.

Young people from seventh to 12th grades are invited to come out for the archdiocesan-sponsored weekend that will include Mass and fellowship. Events kick off on Saturday, Oct. 25 at 5 p.m. and culminate on Sunday, Oct. 26 at 9 p.m.

This year’s theme is “Reveal 2008: Our God, the Great I Am.” Three locations scattered throughout the Archdiocese will host about 600 Catholic middle and high school students, allowing them to select the event most conveniently located to where they live and worship.

“We hope that this event will inspire our young people to get a sense that they are part of a larger Church,” said Andrea Montillo, assistant director of the archdiocesan Office for Youth and Young Adults. “They are really the Church of today and tomorrow. We hope that they will be encouraged to share their gifts and talents. The Eucharist is part of each event. This Mass will strengthen their faith so that they will want to provide their gifts freely.”

At each local World Youth Day location, the young people will hear a videotaped message from Cardinal Justin Rigali. In this address, the Cardinal will discuss highlights of Pope Benedict XVI’s message at last summer’s World Youth Day event held in Australia. They will also be encouraged to participate in the next World Youth Day in Spain in 2011.

The local World Youth Day will begin with a “Night of Talent” at the University of Pennsylvania’s Newman Center at St. Agatha-St. James Parish on Saturday, Oct. 25 from 5 to 8:30 p.m. Talented young people from throughout the Delaware Valley will show off their performing arts skills. All the acts turned in their audition forms on Oct. 9 and are now preparing to perform during the opening of the weekend of activities. There will be an array of singers, dancers, jugglers and comedians.

The “Fall Fest” is being hosted by St. John the Baptist Parish in Ottsville, Bucks County on Sunday, Oct. 26 from 5 to 8:30 p.m. Events will take place at the Schmerbeck Barn in Kitnersville. There will be a youth Mass, a corn maze and even a haunted house as part of the festivities. All seventh to 12th grade Catholic youths are welcome to attend. The suggested donation is $5.

“The young people will enjoy the hayride and other fall festivities during the Halloween season,” Montillo said. “It will be a real celebration.”

Finally, the local National World Youth Day events will culminate with “A Night of Praise” held at St. Norbert Church in Paoli, Chester County. There will be a youth Mass, dinner and a social event.

Brett Illig, former professional baseball player for the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Mets and now youth ministry staff at St. Ann Parish in Phoenixville, will be the guest speaker. Festivities open at 5:45 p.m. and end at 9 p.m.

Those coming to any of the events as a group are urged to register as such. Group leaders must have permission forms for those in their entourage. Those who plan to attend the talent event alone must fill out the registration form by Oct. 20.

Every young person must have a signed permission slip from a parent or guardian and bring it to events. No young person will be admitted to any event without this document. Registration information can be found online at