Students from Catholic academies and schools in Brooklyn and Queens came together for a junior high youth rally on Oct. 25 at the Immaculate Conception Center in Douglaston.
Try to live a saintly life was the message of the day, which was organized by Paul Morisi, diocesan director of youth and young adult faith formation.
“Having so many students here is so powerful,” Morisi said, “and we asked them to live saintly lives as they study the saints of the past. Maybe one day though, we will be studying about the students here.”
Morisi said the event was also a chance to see and explore different ways to pray to make it fun for the students “and allow them all to express themselves in whichever way they choose,” he said.
Nearly 600 youth came together for the afternoon, which started with trivia games that kept enthusiasm and anticipation high until the final winner was named.
Music As a Form of Prayer
The keynote speaker was Brandon Morel, a youth minister from Sacred Heart parish, Bayside, who used music, mainly hip-hop, as a form of prayer and showed off his skills for the students. He also read passages from the Bible and found modern ways to explain them.
“Growing up, I struggled with my faith and it was not something that meant anything to me until later in life,” Morel told the youth.
“I also had a passion for music and knew that was something that I wanted to have as a path. That was when I started to see that my faith was something that could be a path too.
“Going to Mass and exploring that side of my life opened up so much for me and I will always be grateful. Being able to combine my faith and music just came naturally when I started working in youth ministry. Giving the children another path to explore allows them to explore their faith in their own way and continue to grow,” he said.
Father Christopher Heanue, administrator of Holy Child Jesus Church in Richmond Hill, celebrated Mass for the young crowd.
He was a little nervous addressing almost 600 students, but was ready for the task. “I am happy to be here and celebrate with them all,” he said.
During the Mass, Father Heanue had to spin around to make sure he could see everyone’s face.
“Seeing so many students here today is very special and being able to pray and celebrate with them all is great,” he said.
“Many of them are of the age where they truly are starting to explore their faith so to be part of that journey is amazing.”