By Lindsay Steele
The Catholic Messenger
IOWA CITY — Speaking to a group of junior high youths, Tony Vasinda of Project YM postulated the idea that Jesus may have gone through some growing pains as a teenager. “Maybe he went through a voice change. Maybe he had awkward discussions with his parents,” he said.
While such awkwardness may be uncomfortable, he reminded the youths in the audience that their feelings needn’t be a hindrance to talking, praying, serving and worshiping like Jesus did.
About 250 junior high youths attended the Diocese of Davenport Junior High Rally at Regina Education Center in Iowa City March 22. The theme of the event was “LLJD – Live Like Jesus Did.” Texas-based ProjectYM facilitated the event with the help of diocesan youth ministers and the Diocesan Youth Ministry Committee (DYMC).
About 20 DYMC members assisted with setup the night before the rally and spent the night at the school. “It’s a great group of people. We all get along really well,” said April Grostic of St. Mary Parish in Iowa City.
To start the day, members of DYMC led prayer, worship and ice-breaker games. They performed a skit about how to react when a classmate is being bullied: stand up for what is right, even at the risk being made fun of yourself.
Vivian Browne of Ss. Philip & James Parish in Grand Mound appreciated the skit. “It didn’t just talk about (bullying). It showed us what you could do to help someone.”
Vasinda gave a keynote speech just before the students ate a pizza lunch. He asked the youths to use Jesus’ life as an example. “He lived like us so we could live like him,” Vasinda said.
After lunch, the youths participated in a variety of service activities in the school gymnasium. Youths made fleece tie blankets for kids in the Ronald McDonald House program, dog treats and toys for shelter animals, cards and rosaries for members of the military, coloring books for children in need and packed bags of basic necessities for homeless persons.
“I like that we were making a difference while having fun and being with our friends,” said Leah Zeimet of Our Lady of Victory Parish in Davenport. Zeimet and fellow parish member Zayle Snell worked together on a tie blanket.
Youths also had the opportunity to discover new ways to pray. Students could choose between nine different prayer workshops including full body prayer, praying with art, meditative prayer, adoration and music.
Amanda Herrington of St. Paul the Apostle Parish in Davenport enjoyed the workshop on meditative prayer.
“I’d love to do this for another 20 minutes! … It was just calming. You could just let all the worries and chaos go and reflect on the word of God.”
To conclude the rally, youths celebrated Mass with Bishop Martin Amos. In his homily, Bishop Amos told the youths, “We are called today to live like Jesus lived if we are going to live with Jesus” in heaven someday.
The youths seemed to appreciate the opportunity to dive into their faith and spend the day with other teenage Catholics. “I made a lot of new friends,” said Austin Major of St. Mary Parish in Albia.