WCR PHOTO | CHRIS MILLER
Claire McMahon, left, and Gabrielle Kramer dared to move at the youth rally.
March 26, 2012
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
Learning to be people of virtue, hundreds of Catholic youth from around the archdiocese, from Grades 7 to 12, had fun connecting in faith and worship at an annual youth rally in Spruce Grove-Stony Plain.
Andrea Bedard, a Holy Trinity parishioner, has always enjoyed past rallies, and recommends them to her friends.
"It's a good experience, and you learn quite a bit. The speakers are usually really good, and we're here with friends, so it's a good time," said Andrea.
March 17 marked the 10th anniversary of the Holy Trinity Parish youth rally. Youth took the opportunity to participate in a day of Confession, Mass and adoration.
This year's theme was Dare You to Move. Plenty of movement was involved in the lively music, games, and interactive prayer activities.
As with many youth, Andrea said a highlight was listening to the three talks by Father John Gerth, pastor of St. Joseph Catholic Church in St. Petersburg, Fla. He is the only Caucasian in the African-American parish. Having spoken at past youth rallies, he was familiar to most youth, but not to Andrea.
"I like the speaker," she said.
Gerth's morning talk focused on being virtuous, which he defined as "becoming more human." Being human, being virtuous, means going against every obstacle and falsehood that the world tempts us with.
WCR PHOTO | CHRIS MILLER
Florida pastor Fr. John Gerth urged youth to 'become more human.'
"So often the world wants to make us more inhuman, and strip us down of everything that we are, and give us something that really isn't us, something false," said Gerth.
Being virtuous means having the disposition to do the right thing in every circumstance. It means being Christ for one another.
"We are called to be a people of faith, not followers of human stuff but followers of divine stuff," said Gerth.
"We come to this moment to follow Christ, to literally let the stuff of who we are be more important than the stuff of this world, to be people who are virtuous, moral and faithful."
A sheep is the most common image in Scripture of people who are faithful to God. Due to their flocking instinct and failure to act independently, sheep are not deemed overly smart. That's why a shepherd is needed to keep them safe.
"If we could trust in God, if we could live in him and be more human in him, amazing things could happen," said Gerth. "We don't give up who we are, but actually become more of who we are."
Gerth's message resonated with Kyla Rushton, a Holy Trinity parishioner. She has been to past rallies and always enjoyed them.
Kyla especially liked the energetic music at this event. Coming to an event with like-minded people of the same faith was a definite highlight for her.
Gerth said without the sun, the Earth would be a lifeless ball of rock and ice. The sun warms the planet, creates weather, and gives energy to plants, providing food and energy to support life. If the sun were not in the centre of the universe, all of the planets would collapse on themselves.
"When we take Christ out of the centre of our lives, we collapse on ourselves and we're left in eternal darkness, which sounds very foreboding. But we are called to be people of the light," said Gerth.
PRAY FOR EACH OTHER
Calling the young people to build each other up, he had everyone turn to the person next to them and promise to pray for them later in the day.
"We need to remind ourselves to be people of virtue, to have the courage to do that, to live for the greater glory and honour of God, to be free," said Gerth.
"I like the talks and I like the energy," said Gabrielle Kramer, the niece of the parish's youth minister, Mike Landry, who led music throughout the day.