By Austin O’Brien
We have all been there: hurt and miserable, feeling as if the world is against us, stationary — not moving forward, not moving backward. We face two choices in the race of life. We must choose between what is easy, and what is right.
We could give up, or we could push the full limits of our strength and our faith. Imagine if a few of our greatest worldly influences had given up: Martin Luther King Jr., Mohandas Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, even Jesus Christ; all quitting because their path led to too great of hardship. Where would our world be today?
“Finish the race, be exalted” was the theme echoed through the halls of the Coralville Marriott last month during the 2010 Diocesan High School Youth Rally. Over 600 youth and youth ministers gathered for a day of worship and togetherness. The keynoters, APeX Ministries, stressed the theme as well as various stories of modern-day heroism. In between, they shared insightful stories and touching testimonies of their lives. Brad Farmer and Gene Monterastelli have chased their calling in life by evangelizing to tens of thousands of Christians across North America since 1996. Being on the Diocesan Youth Ministry Committee I, along with my fellow DYMC members, had the honor of meeting Brad and Gene the night previous to the rally. The two men were extremely humble as well as passionate about Christ.
Brad and Gene, however, were not the only attraction at this year’s rally. Dozens of breakouts were also offered and led by individuals who have a burning desire to share their experiences with today’s younger generation. Aside from the breakouts, multiple booths were set up displaying the various retreats and camps offered in the diocese and throughout most of Iowa. At each of the displays were remarkable individuals of DYMC who have attended that retreat or institute. Catholics in Action, Teens Encounter Christ and the National Catholic Youth Conference were among the many displays presented this year. DYMC awards were later presented to a young leader, Phoebe Yetley of Iowa City, and an adult, Chris Weber of Muscatine, who have shown remarkable faith and continue to strive to make a difference in this world.
Julia Arth, a member of St. Paul the Apostle Parish in Davenport, said the rally “is almost like a mini NCYC! It helped me to reconnect with my spirituality and deepen my love and faith for Jesus Christ. It’s a place to meet other faith-filled Catholics our age, make new friends, be inspired, pray, gain hope, happiness, and just fall in love with God, and realize how truly great and amazing he really is!”
The keynoters may change, the breakouts may be modified, and the members of DYMC may have come and gone. However, there is one thing that remains the same every year: the full and unending presence of God.
(Austin O’Brien, 17, is a senior at Assumption High School and a member of St. Paul the Apostle Parish, both in Davenport.)