Multi-generational experience of hope

By Barb Arland-Fye
The Catholic Messenger

Don Boucher was hearing more stories about the effects of the long drawn-out pandemic on mental health, particularly the mental health of young people. He wondered how the Faith Formation Office he leads for the Diocese of Davenport could help parishes “be more of a presence in their young people’s lives, accompanying them, supporting them, and providing hope.”

One answer? “Hold On To Love,” four, monthly livestream experiences sponsored by the Faith Formation Office for teens, parents and others to “get inspired, reflect, pray and get fed for the journey ahead.”

The first experience, held Jan. 10 on Facebook, special guest Jesse Manibusan, a popular musical artist, storyteller and evangelizer who performed “Hold on to Love,” a song he composed with Ken Canedo. Other participants included Bishop Thomas Zinkula and Mitch Narvasa. You can view the recorded experience on the diocese’s youth and young adult Facebook page (https://tinyurl.com/y4nakb2u\). The next experience, Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14, begins at 7 p.m.

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Quinn Frese, a senior at Assumption High School in Davenport, could hardly contain his excitement for the first hour-long experience. He served as one of three co-hosts. “These past few months have been difficult for us. Tonight is a night to take the stuff away, to be able to relax, to give it up to God … give our worries, give our doubts up to him,” Quinn said. “Each day we can build up our relationship with him.”

“We’re excited to be on this journey with you,” said co-host Brett Adams, coordinator of Evan­gelization and Youth Ministry for Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, Bettendorf. “Life has thrown us a curve ball and we’re all trying to take stock on what that means for each of us. We’ve all been on a journey together.”

“What ‘Hold on to Love is,’ what these nights are going to be about, is taking stock of that journey and realizing where we’ve come from, where we’ve been, where we are and where we are going. And kind of note the blessings in that as well as maybe some of the losses … and share, reflect and pray and connect as a community, albeit a virtual community.”

“I’m a hugger, I’m tactile, I like to make eye contact with people,” confessed co-host Candy Boucher, who leads adult faith formation for St. Ann Parish in Long Grove. That makes the pandemic especially challenging for her. Her husband, Don Boucher, and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit convinced her to co-host the “Hold On To Love” experiences.

“Love Breaks Through,” the theme for the first experience, “invites us to remember the ways we are getting through this pandemic, not just getting by. Your remembering things that give you hope, bring you hope, will help the rest of us.”

Bishop Zinkula reminded participants, “Even in the darkest of times when things seem to be falling apart, love breaks through.” He said, “Jesus brings light to darkness and our faith in him gives us hope,” and shared a passage from the first letter of John emphasizing that message. The bishop asked God to “Help us to always trust and remember that when we need you and call on you, your love will always break through.”

Jesse Manibusan performed from a cozy, homey room with guitars hanging on the wall, giving a sense of intimacy with his virtual audience. “Life is difficult; it’s complicated. It’s frustrating. It’s chaotic. It is joyful. It is despairing, it is inconvenient and it is boring; it is mundane, and love always breaks through. Love always breaks through. Grace and hope and faith and humility and courage and compassion always breaks through.”

The virtual audience had opportunities to share prayer intentions and send emojis expressing their thoughts about the experience. Mitch Narvasa, pastoral associate for St. John Vianney Parish in Bettendorf, performed “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.”

One of the big takeaways for Brett was “Jesse Manibusan’s comments about the need for heroic humility, compassion, and vulnerability. Especially, as everyone is tiring on this whole pandemic journey and with the state of our country right now, it is good to be reminded that we, as Christians, need to demonstrate the love of Christ regardless of our circumstances or differences. That’s some of what ‘Hold On To Love’ is about for me. Hopefully others get that message as well.”

Brett said he hopes people who participate in these experiences find them refreshing, a “chance to step back in reflection and prayer on how God may be working in their lives even amidst the unique and challenging circumstances of this past year, due to the pandemic or in general.”

“My hope for others as they watch the livestreams each month is that they will be able to grow a closer relationship to our Lord, and be able to find peace during these difficult times,” Quinn said. “I believe that ‘Hold On To Love’ is a wonderful opportunity to step away from all the chaos of the world, and have some time to relax and meditate.”

Candy appreciated serving as one of three co-hosts. “The three of us together seem more credible because we represent people at so many different places on a faith journey. I had never met either of these guys before, and have never met them face-to-face. What a leap of faith for us to show up and let the Spirit use us in that way.”

“I have always thought that the best way to live in faith is multi-generational and multi-cultural. Our first session proved the value in that and I look forward to growing in my faith with so many others. I hope that others feel this as well.”


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