When St. Teresa of Kolkata spoke at Bishop O’Connell High School
in Arlington in 1982, a student asked her, “How can we become like you?” She
responded, “Find your own Calcutta.” Those words were echoed in the same
auditorium more than 30 years later by Kevin Bohli, director of the Office of
Youth Ministry, to the youths attending RALLY Oct. 23.
“I shared that with teens at the beginning of RALLY and thought
it would be a good challenge for them,” said Bohli. “God is calling each of us
to love and serve others in our own unique way.”
“To people who aren’t here they should definitely come. The fellowship is great — it’s amazing to see so many people here my age (who) are here for Jesus.” Adriana Goble, senior at Paul VI Catholic High School
RALLY, the annual youth ministry event, drew youths from all
parts of the diocese.
They found opportunities to discover their own “unique way” in a
distinctive dichotomy of fun and faith through rock climbing and going to
confession, hearing lectures on Theology of the Body for
Beginners and racing through inflatable obstacles, as well as attending
a concert and receiving the Eucharist.
Bishop Paul S. Loverde celebrated Mass telling the crowd,
“Honestly, on our own, we cannot love (as St. Teresa of Kolkata). But, with
Jesus transforming us by His powerful grace and with His love in our hearts, we
can live as did Mother Teresa … ” (See the bishop’s homily on page 9).
In gratitude, a banner was signed by the youths with farewell
messages for Bishop Loverde. His retirement was accepted recently by Pope
Francis. Bishop Michael F. Burbidge will be installed as the fourth bishop of
Arlington Dec. 6.
The youth ministry’s theme for this year is a phrase from St.
Teresa of Kolkata, “I will love.”
Keynote speaker and musician, Sean Forrest, shared stories from
his life, including his flight to his first mission trip to Haiti.
“My seatbelt is not working and (they) say, ‘Ah, tie it in a
knot,’ ” said Forrest. “The priest comes and says ‘Hey, relax.’ I hate flying;
always have. And people say, ‘Well, when it’s your time it’s your time.’ Oh
yeah? Well, what if it’s not my time but the pilot’s time and I just happen to
be trapped in his tunnel of death.”
As with past keynoters, Forrest engaged the students with humor
and redirected the limelight from games to Jesus.
“Don’t be entertained today, be inspired to live what God’s
called you to live,” said Forrest. “If you’re saying ‘I will love’ that means
‘I will die to myself.’ ”
With the variety of activities and wide range of workshops, the
youths can lose sight of the focus of the day.
“Sometimes the only reason a teen will come to RALLY is because
they know there will be a climbing wall, pizza and tons of snacks,” said Bohli.
“However, they go home excited about having gone to confession,
meeting their bishop and seeing hundreds of other teenagers (who) are excited
about Jesus Christ,” he said.
For first-timers, RALLY can be a moment of coming out of one’s
shell, while for veterans it can be rejuvenation.
“I’ve always managed to find a talk that speaks to me,” said
Adriana Goble, a senior at Paul VI Catholic High School in Fairfax, attending
her third RALLY. “I’m a senior this year, going through a lot of stress, so it
really helped me out when (Forrest) said about getting out of your comfort
zone” and emphasizing the need for faith next year at college.
She admitted that her first year was uncomfortable. “I’m a shy
person,” said Goble. “So the first time I came here I was nervous.” Yet what
drew her out was the encounter with teens her own age and talks about faith.
“To people who aren’t here they should definitely come,” she said.
“The fellowship is great — it’s amazing to see so many people here my age (who)
are here for Jesus.”