Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of October 23, 2006
Youth adore God in solemn silence
Young Catholics attracted to biweekly evening of prayer
- WCR photo by Ramon Gonzalez
Trevor Savage, Danielle Cyre, Trina Kosakewich and friends were among the 70 people who attended the Oct. 12 EXALT evening of praise and worship.
By RAMON GONZALEZ
WCR Staff Writer
Who says you need lively music and lots of activity to attract young people to a Catholic event?
To the casual visitor, EXALT, an evening of praise and worship, might even seem somber. But for those who attended it was a solemn occasion.
Under dimmed lights they prayed, sang contemporary and traditional praise and worship songs, adored the Blessed Sacrament and meditated quietly.
"I love it," said Danielle Cyre, 18, who was attending for the first time. "Spending time with God this way really gets you pumped up."
Cyre, a member of St. Albert's Holy Family Parish, was one of about 70 young people who took part in EXALT Oct. 12 at St. Pius X Church.
EXALT is an evening of worship whose purpose is to get young people to reflect on what God is calling them to, said youth minister Mike Landry.
Landry has been organizing the event with help from the archdiocesan vocations office for the last year.
"The idea is to reach out to the people who are looking for something a little deeper than a regular youth group can offer," he said. "We've found that bringing youth into the presence of the Lord in adoration is a very powerful way to take them a little bit deeper."
Most youth who attend have been involved in their parishes for some time and appreciate the event's format.
"I love the silence; it allows me to pray and to listen to God," Cyre said. "I feel a lot closer to God now."
Trevor Savage, 18, also attended for the first time and wasn't disappointed. "I just came to see what it is like and the singing was awesome," the St. Albert youth said. "Praying to God is always good to do. I am coming back definitely."
The eight-member band Anaphora, Greek for offering, provided the music. Landry plays guitar in the band.
Trina Kosakewich has been attending EXALT since it started in September 2005.
"I just love coming," the 18-year-old said. "It's such a great experience. It nurtures your faith and it is just such a good connection with God. It really keeps you together with your spiritual life."
Kosakewich, a member of St. Theresa Parish, also loves the silence. "I love the silence because it allows you to think and pray to God," she said. "It's time to just listen to what God has to say and it's just like you are at peace."
EXALT is the reincarnation of a monthly Holy Hour launched by the vocations office a few years ago. When Landry saw the numbers dwindle, he offered to take it over under a new name.
"We decided to put a new band (Anaphora) together for it," said Landry, youth minister at Holy Family Parish.
"The idea is to offer our praise to God and to try to reach out to the people who are looking for something a little deeper than a regular youth group can offer."
The event takes place at St. Pius every second Thursday from 7:30 to 9 p.m. and usually begins with praise and worship music.
A priest or a deacon brings up the Blessed Sacrament and then presides over adoration and Benediction.
There is a speaker at every session. Sometime it is the presiding priest or deacon and sometimes a special guest. This time it was Jerry Goebel, a youth minister from Washington, who urged his audience to take care of young people.
"In Scripture, leadership is not how far you can get ahead," he said. "It's about not leaving anyone behind. If you leave anyone behind, you are not a leader."
The United States has more kids in jail than in any other country and Canada is not far behind, according to Goebel.
"We are losing one out of five of our kids. We are losing a generation. They are desperately looking for relationships and the Church must reach out to them and provide those relationships."
Landry said the music helps to draw in the young people. "But I think ultimately what they are drawn to is the presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament more than anything.
"The music might get them in the door but what keeps them there, what keeps them coming back, is the fact that they're having that face to face encounter (with God)."