WINDSOR TERRACE — Not even a global pandemic was going to stop the youth of the Diocese of Brooklyn from holding a rally and proclaiming their love for Jesus Christ.
The annual Brooklyn Diocese Youth Day, which is normally a rally featuring prayers, inspirational talks, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, music, and lots of energy, could not take place in person as originally planned because of the coronavirus.
However, the event still took place on May 30, and despite being moved online, the enthusiasm was still there, catapulting itself through the computer screen.
The theme of the virtual rally, which was organized by the Diocese Office of the Secretariat for Evangelization and Catechesis, was “Proclaim His Greatness & Find Your Treasure.”
There were prayers, music, short speeches, friendly greetings from parish youth ministers, and even the sharing of recipes reflecting the diverse cultures within the Diocese of Brooklyn.
At one point, the Blessed Sacrament was exposed. Father James Kuroly, president of Cathedral Preparatory High School, led the prayers.
The hour-long rally was punctuated with vibrant music from DJ Brandon Morel. Jornada Music Ministry performed live. Everyone was likely singing and dancing in their living rooms at home.
“We know the Holy Spirit is going to enter into our homes and meet us where we are,” Morel said.
Young people were encouraged at every turn to be bold in proclaiming their love for Jesus Christ and to realize that they are valuable.
The keynote speaker, Father Henry Torres, parochial vicar of St. Sebastian Church, Woodside, reminded the young people watching the rally on YouTube that they are the future of the Catholic Church.
“Whatever your gift is, the Lord wants to use it,” Father Torres said.
Father Torres also implored young people not to be afraid of the darkness in their lives because Jesus Christ is the light: “Bring him to these dark places and let him light these dark places. Our common goal is holiness. Let us bring this light to our friends and families.”
The event, which the Diocese of Brooklyn hosts each year, is aimed primarily at young people about to receive Confirmation and is part of the diocese’s effort to bring the youth closer to the church. In past years, the event has taken place in a high school auditorium or at St. John’s University and drawn crowds of hundreds of people. This year, hundreds of people watched the event live online.
Father Kuroly urged young people to always remember that God is with them, especially now.
“These weeks have been difficult,” Father Kuroly said, referring to the fact that events such as Confirmations and graduations have had to be postponed due to the pandemic. “The one thing that has remained is that God is with us. God is real. God is here. God is present. That is the great message of the day.”
Morel advised young people to become active in their local parishes and to do the hard work of building communities.
Amid the joyous atmosphere in the virtual rally on May 30, there were sobering reminders of the toll the coronavirus pandemic has taken on the diocese.
Brooklyn Catholic Youth Day 2020 was originally scheduled for March 21 at St. Brigid’s Church, Wyckoff Heights, where Father Jorge Ortiz-Garay served as pastor. Father Ortiz-Garay died of coronavirus on March 27. The Mexican-born cleric was the first Catholic priest in the U.S. to die of coronavirus. He was also the coordinator of the Diocese Ministry for Mexican immigrants.
The rally was dedicated to his memory.
To read the latest updates regarding coronavirus concerns in the Brooklyn Diocese, go to https://thetablet.org/coronavirus.