By Jim Gauger
Special to The CS&T
In a world overwrought with 24-hour news and entertainment outlets, young people are faced with many challenging decisions.
For Catholic youth, Christ gives them a compass to find their way.
That is the guiding principle for the Philadelphia Archdiocese’s celebration of National World Youth Day. To facilitate this union with Christ, the Office for Youth and Young Adults (OYYA) and Malvern Retreat House are co-sponsoring Adoremus Te II (“We Adore You”) on Sunday, Oct. 25.
The event at Malvern – designed for high school students – includes a keynote presentation; a concert by Catholic musicians, the Kelly Pease Band; Mass celebrated by Auxiliary Bishop Joseph P. McFadden; and the sacrament of penance and Eucharistic Adoration presided over by Capuchin Father David Engo. It will be held from 1 to 8 p.m. Registration is $15 until Oct. 15 and $20 after that date.
The theme comes from St. Paul’s first letter to Timothy: “We have set our hope on the living God.”
“Last year we had 300 participants and young adult volunteers,” said Andrea Montillo, assistant to the director of OYYA, John Tague. “We’re hoping for 450 students this year. That is capacity indoors in Upper McShain, where Bishop McFadden will celebrate Mass.”
Malvern and OYYA believe there are many benefits to the retreat. “We hope that the experiences of the day will enable youth to internalize the day’s theme and leave the event resolved to put their trust in our Lord Jesus Christ and to continue to build their relationship with Him,” Tague said.
Montillo said Catholic rapper Righteous B (Bob Lesnefsky) was originally booked for the event, but he had to cancel “after suffering three strokes between Sept. 23 and Sept. 26.” She said the Kelly Pease Band is donating their performance fee to Righteous B’s ministry. “He is doing better,” Montillo said of the 31-year-old rapper.
Abbie Langsdorf, vicariate coordinator for Chester and Delaware Counties, participated in last year’s event. She said many of the students she spoke with couldn’t wait to return. “That speaks volumes to me,” she said. “They enjoyed being with other young people, seeing the truth and hungering for more of it.”
Langsdorf said a major benefit was the opportunity “for the teens to come into a setting to freely worship Christ. Teens need to be focused on the fact that Christ loves them unconditionally, that they have God to go to in times of struggle and suffering, the day-to-day trials.”
Langsdorf says teens of today and 10 years ago face similar challenges. But there is a new element.
“They still experience struggles as to who they are, self-identity, self-confidence, understanding why God created them, the beauty of sexuality in a theological way, not in a worldly sense.” She feels that teens today see so much in popular culture that they no longer are shocked. “The world says it’s OK,” she explained. “Teens need to know why amoral things are not accepted.”
The National Celebration of World Youth Day is annually marked on the 30th Sunday of Ordinary Time in the United States. Thus, it is appropriate that Adoremus Te II is scheduled on the same day.
“We hope the students are inspired to be more involved in Eucharist Adoration at their parishes and develop personal prayer,” Montillo said. “We hope they come away with a sense that they are a part of a larger Church and that they have a stronger understanding of how we put our hope in a living God.”
By being a witness, says Montillo, “they can become closer to Christ, and share their faith with others.”
Jim Gauger is a freelance writer and a member of St. Luke the Evangelist Parish, Glenside.