By Lou Baldwin

Special to The CS&T

One hundred and thirty-six young people and youth ministers were honored at a Mass and recognition ceremony held at the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul on the evening of May 11. The bulk of the awards were given to teens active in C.Y.O. programs.

“On behalf of Cardinal Rigali, I do want to thank you,” said Auxiliary Bishop Joseph P. McFadden, who was the principal celebrant and homilist at the Mass.

Our task, he said, is “to proclaim Christ and to proclaim we are His people and to build His kingdom.”

He thanked the honorees “for all you have done to help our young people to grow hopefully in their knowledge and love of our Lord Jesus Christ and most importantly to help in the building up of God’s kingdom. That is what our faith is all about. It is the building of God’s kingdom and it is also living the values that are such an important part of God’s kingdom.”

At the close of the Mass, Bishop McFadden reminded the young people of the need for vocations to the priesthood or religious life. In one case he was preaching to the choir.

Joseph Rodgers, a high school senior from Our Lady of the Rosary Parish, Coatesville, will enter St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in the fall. He has been active with his parish youth group since the ninth grade and was member of the Archdiocesan Youth Advisory Committee in his junior year.

“This is God’s gift to me, and I just want to share and help kids follow my lead,” Rodgers said.

Antonella Frattarelli, a high school senior and honoree from St. Joseph, Aston, is president of her parish C.Y.O. and sees the organization as “a way to reach out to other teenagers and young adults and get them involved in the Church.”

Maddie Hotz, a high school junior and president of the youth group at St. Pius X Parish, Broomall, echoed the feelings of many when she said, “I was shocked by the award. I really feel special, and this has been a great experience.”

Ronald Bikibili, a youth group member of Philadelphia’s St. Malachy Parish, said, “I’m just happy. I feel good about this.”

Other awards of the evening went to young adults and adults active in youth ministry. Ronald Cummings, one of three youth workers from SS. Peter and Paul Parish, East Goshen, who received the Companions on the Journey Award, spoke for the group when he said, “We feel blessed and would like to thank Msgr. (James J.) Foley for nominating us.”

“We had more than 50 percent participation this year,” said John Tague, director of the archdiocesan Office for Youth and Young Adults.

Most of the awardees were nominated by their pastors, many of whom were present to concelebrate the Mass.

“This is a team effort involving staff, contacts in the parishes and the pastors,” Tague said. “It’s a beautiful evening and an opportunity for the Archdiocese to come out and celebrate all the goodness that flows in the realm of ministry to youth and young adults.”

Lou Baldwin is a member of St. Leo Parish and a freelance writer.