“Planted and built up in Jesus Christ, firm in the Faith” Col 2:3

This year’s Youth Festival took place from May 27-29, 2011, at St. Patrick’s Retreat Center in East Durham, NY and hosted over 300 youth, seminarians, religious sisters and priests from parishes in Washington DC, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts and Connecticut.

The Workshops, Talks, and Recreation
Drawing from this year’s theme “planted and built up in Jesus Christ, firm in the faith,” the talks and workshops focused on developing a relationship with Christ by the practice of virtue to a heroic degree at all times and in all circumstances, even in the very ordinary events of everyday life.

In the first plenary talk Valeria Zimmerman, wife, mother of four and friend of our Religious Family, spoke about friendship and the characteristics of a true friendship: freedom, sacrifice, and generosity. She also emphasized the great importance of friendship in discerning one’s vocation to matrimony. Fr. Gustavo Domenech, Rector of the IVE Fulton Sheen House of Formation, presented on the virtue of fortitude and magnanimity while other guest speakers such as Dr. Evelyn Vitz presented on how to witness to others about the reality of abortion and Dr. Paul Vitz spoke about forgiveness.

Between talks and prayer times, the youth had sports in the field, team competitions during the entertainment, and songs during the music and skits followed lunchtime and dinner. After Adoration and Confessions on Saturday night, we had the traditional bonfire, smores and songs.

To identify oneself with Jesus, to Grow with Jesus
Once again we were privileged to have His Eminence, Theodore Cardinal McCarrick, Archbishop Emeritus of Washington, join us on Sunday for the final plenary talk and the celebration of the Holy Mass to close the Youth Festival.

Cardinal McCarrick spoke about the life of Jesus from His infancy to the beginning of His public ministry and how Jesus in His humanity is the perfect example of humility and docility. He spoke of the the need to be always with Jesus and to imitate Him in all aspects of our life–study, work and recreation–through prayer and recollection. Most especially in the difficult moments of our lives we need to be with Jesus who knows and truly understands the challenges of this life and has himself experienced them first hand since childhood.

The spontaneous questions that the youth asked at the end of his talk showed their love and respect of this shepherd of the Church. Some of the questions included:

  • “Is prayer the answer to any problem?”
  • “What advise can you give about living as a faithful youth?”

We are so grateful to have had such a fatherly example of priesthood among us. The youth all gave Cardinal McCarrick a standing ovation at the announcement of his 52nd anniversary of priestly ordination, May 31st.

May the spiritual fruits of this Youth Festival help to lead all the young people to holiness and eternal life.