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Teens from New Jersey combine faith, fun at annual gathering
June 16, 2017
JACKSON — Young Catholics and youth ministry leaders from the diocese joined hundreds of their peers at the 22nd annual New Jersey Catholic Youth Rally at Great Adventure May 21.
The event is coordinated through the Dioceses of Trenton, Camden, Metuchen and Paterson as well as the Archdiocese of Newark.
Cardinal Joseph William Tobin of the Archdiocese of Newark presided at a Mass to close the gathering, which included praise and worship, testimony and prayer.
Father Edmund A. Luciano III, director, diocesan Youth and Young Adult Ministry, and Father Roy Quesea, parochial vicar, St. Joseph Parish, North Plainfield, were concelebrants.
“Each year we hope to give our young church a strong reminder that being a faithful disciple does not mean that we are without joy or the opportunities for fun,” Father Luciano said.
“It is also extremely important for them to look out at a crowded auditorium on a Sunday morning and see it packed with their peers jumping up and singing loudly to the Lord or to see how important the Sunday Eucharist is as thousands get off the rides and come together for Mass.
“The infusion of energy by their enthusiasm isn’t just felt in noise but also in the pin drop reverence as Cardinal Tobin raised our Eucharistic Lord in the bread and wine. These
types of gatherings fortify our young people by the witness they give to one another: ‘You, young believer are not alone! There are many of us and we need to stick together!’” In his homily, Cardinal Tobin spoke about the fear that may lie in the hearts of some people.
“You get messages all the time, that you’re not smart enough, you’re not rich enough, you’re not handsome enough, that if you don’t look good in your Instagram photos people will be talking about you. We live in a world of fear,” he said.
He suggested that Jesus understands the way people feel and they should not be afraid.
“All of us by our baptism and some of us by our confirmation have been given the gift of the Holy Spirit,” he said. “The Holy Spirit does many wonderful things for us, but most of all, the Holy Spirit says, ‘Don’t be afraid. You’re not orphans. God loves you. God knows your name, and God knows you better than you know yourself. There is no reason to be afraid.’” After Mass, Cardinal Tobin spent nearly an hour speaking with youth and youth minsters, praying, blessing and taking photos with them. “It’s a real pleasure to meet with the youth and the adults that care for them every day,” he said. “This is the sign of a healthy Church, the young people who can have a great time and worship Christ together. This gives me hope.” Jerry Wutkowski, assistant coordinator of young adult ministry for the Diocese of Trenton, said the event gives participants “a lot of hope, joy and allows
them to share their faith, not just with their own faith community but also out in public.”
By Rose O’Connor, a correspondent for The Monitor, official newspaper of the Diocese of Trenton