By Katrina Genereux/Staff Writer, OND
Detroit Lakes, Minn. – Around 275 students attended the 2017 High School Youth Rally hosted by Holy Rosary, Detroit Lakes, on Oct. 29.
The Diocese of Crookston collaborated with Partnership for Youth, the organization that coordinates Steubenville Youth Conferences in Rochester, St. Paul and Kenosha, Wis., to run this year’s event. The diocese also partnered with them for the Middle School Youth Rally earlier this year.
During the rally, youth heard from dynamic speakers, spent time in Adoration, had the opportunity to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation and celebrated Mass with Bishop Michael J. Hoeppner.
Attendees also had the opportunity to choose between breakout sessions featuring a cross training workout focused on the Stations of the Cross, or a session with Aly Aleigha exploring and explaining common misconceptions about the creation narrative.
Kris Frank, an inner city missionary with Dirty Vagabond Ministries, delivered the keynote addresses focused on the theme, “The Lord is my Strength.” Frank lives in Ohio with his wife and four children.
Worship throughout the rally was led by the Aly Aleigha Band. They released their first full-length album in 2016 and have been travelling the country since. Aleigha is a Catholic song-writer and speaker based in Duluth.
The inspiration for this year’s theme came from Psalm 18:2-3, “I love you, O Lord, my strength, O Lord, my rock, my fortress, my deliverer.”
Frank’s keynote address focused on encouraging the youth to lean on God’s strength, using his experiences as a husband and father as well as Scripture, particularly the story of Caleb found in Chapter 13 of the Book of Numbers.
“If we can lean into God, and understand who he is, though he may not take away all of the problems, it will change the way in which we handle those problems,” Frank said. “When we come across a difficulty, it won’t just be a difficulty we have to burden, but it will be something that we can embrace for the love of God.”
He said in life, we often face problems and difficulties we would rather run from than face.
“The beautiful thing about our faith is that anytime that we are going through something that feels it is beyond us, if we want to know how strong God is, all we have to do is look at the Cross because he can pick up a cross that we could never bear ourselves. When everything is tumbling around us, God in his strength, stands tall right there on the hill of Calvary for you and for me,” Frank said.
He shared a story about moving to a new home with lots of great hiding places and trying to play hide and seek with his children. At first they would only hide in the hallways and open areas because they were uncertain about the new place. After he assured them he was with them and would protect them, they had confidence to explore and find great hiding places and the game became really fun.
“If we came to understand how big and how great and how strong our God is, we wouldn’t be going to God and telling God how big our problems are, we’d be going to our problems and telling our problems how big our God is,” Frank said. “That’s why we’re here today … not just to talk about God, but to experience his greatness, to experience his strength, to experience his love – not just through talks and hanging out – but physically, tangibly through the sacraments.”
During his homily, Bishop Hoeppner said, “The challenge today is to live the Jesus experience. Sometimes it’s a powerful experience … sometimes it’s just an ordinary experience.”
He continued, “The Holy Spirit enlivens us to love the way Jesus did. In all the stories, in all these Gospels, we are empowered to go out to the whole world and to bring the Jesus experience.”
In his second presentation at the close of the rally, Frank encouraged the students to let the youth rally be the start of something new in their lives.
“If we really want to get serious about this Jesus thing, it would make sense that as we go back to our homes, to our families, to our schools, that we would try to live differently, that we would try to live a life that is actually going to draw us closer to the goal that we started to speak about today and that is to lean into the strength of God,” he said.
He encouraged the youth to do this by focusing on four areas: connecting with God on a daily basis through Scripture, frequently receiving the sacraments, reaching out to serve others and building community by seeking others who are living the faith.
“Here’s my prayer for us … that today would be the day that we look back and we say ‘I don’t remember everything, but I remember that this was the day that I leaned into God’s strength and things changed. This is the day that I looked back and I can say that was the day I committed to God in a new way,’” Frank said.
For additional photos from the 2017 Diocesan High School Youth Rally, click HERE.