By Celine Klosterman
Students at the Davenport Diocese’s upcoming junior high youth rally will be “J-Walking” — journeying with Jesus — and it’s their daily steps that presenter Anne Marie Cribbin hopes to make even more meaningful.
“I’m inspired by how God is so present in the day-to-day happenings of life,” said Cribbin, a parish youth minister for 13 years in the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C. “It’s not just about witnessing big moments of conversion, but how we recognize Christ in our midst — in our neighbors and classmates.”
A nationally touring presenter, she often illustrates that point with stories about growing up with a sister and two brothers and the “chaos” of family life. Those stories, along with faith-related workshops, music from Christian band 1 of 12, Mass with Bishop Martin Amos, prayer and a skit by the Diocesan Youth Ministry Committee, will make up the highlights of the March 21 rally at Regina Junior/Senior High School in Iowa City.
Students “can expect to have fun, to laugh and be challenged,” said Cribbin, 38. “They can expect to be engaged in story and song and reflect on ways that God reveals his love to us in sacramental life and in interactions with the body of Christ.”
But what youths take from the rally isn’t up to her, she noted. “If a young person falls more in love with Jesus as a result of it and the collective efforts and ministry of all involved, that is by far the greatest gift,” she said. “But I think we all just go into these events striving to do God’s will and be open to speaking his message of love and mercy. We are vessels for him to use and the outcome of that is so, so much bigger than us.”
Cribbin’s ministry of presenting the Gospel began with a few retreats and rallies in the Washington, D.C. area. Eventually, she was invited to present a comedic musical skit at a National Conference on Catholic Youth Ministry. After that conference seven years ago, more opportunities opened up – and she has since performed at events in Houston, Atlanta, Denver, Pittsburgh, Las Vegas and elsewhere.
Youths continue to inspire her, she said. “I’m humbled by the ways they preach the Gospel message in their actions, be it organizing a fundraiser for a charity in need or sacrificing their spring break to go on work camp. I believe young people are truly the joy of the church. They have so much energy and passion and are beautiful witnesses of our faith.”
To register for the junior high youth rally, students should contact their parish youth minister or director of religious education. Final deadline is March 12. For more information, visit www.davenportyouth.org.