Teens say youth conference experience was ‘powerful’
Seventeen high school students from St. Pius X in White Bear Lake were among the more than 2,000 Catholic teens from across the Midwest who attended the Steubenville North Youth Conference at University of St. Thomas, July 27-29.
Sadie Korsich, a sophomore at AFSA High School and parishioner at St. Pius X, said she “felt the presence of God” at the event, which was “pretty amazing.”
While she could not pinpoint one particular activity as being her favorite she said participating in the sacrament of confession was a powerful moment for her.
“‘Powerful’ sums up the whole [conference],” she added.
Laura Fenzle, youth minister at the parish, said the conference was unlike any other she attended.
“I’ve never seen a Steubenville North conference where the kids were this invested — most kids were drawn in right from the get-go,” she said. “The kids knew they were part of something big and weren’t scared to be there.”
The Eighth Day
The conference’s theme this year was “The Eighth Day.”
The term, according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, refers to “a new day, a day of redemption by the resurrection of Jesus Christ. For the first creation ended on the seventh day, on the eighth day started the new creation, the creation redeemed by Jesus.”
The conference, sponsored by Partnership for Youth, started with an invitation by speaker Ennie Hickman of ADORE Ministries, who asked the youth to forget about worries or fears during the weekend and open their hearts to receive the Holy Spirit.
Other speakers included Father John Amsberry, pastor of St. Joseph the Worker in Portland, Ore.; Leah Darrow, a former New York fashion model, who talked to young women about the virtues of modesty and chastity, and Deacon Ralph Poyo, founder of New Evangelization Ministries, who talked about overcoming distractions in prayer.
Sonar, a Catholic band from the Twin Cities, energized and inspired the youth during praise and worship time.
Archbishop John Nienstedt presided at Sunday’s closing Mass.
Eucharistic adoration was one of the most memorable parts of the experience, according to several participants interviewed by The Catholic Spirit.
Keatie Mulhorn, a junior at Minnetonka High School and parishioner at St. John the Baptist in Excelsior, said it was an emotional experience — some youth shed tears — when a priest processed through the crowd with a monstrance containing the Blessed Sacrament. Mulhorn said she felt the real presence of God.
Kathryn Furlong also a parishioner St. John the Baptist, said she liked seeing the large gathering of youth worshipping God and having fun with it.
“I love the fact that you can take away from this conference that you are not alone, that there are others going through the same faith experiences you are,” she said.
Fenzle said the time immediately after the Steubenville North conference is as important as the event itself.
“We do a sharing meeting when we come back,” she said, and this gives the kids a chance to tell their parents about the experience.
Follow-up is crucial for maintaining close relationships, she said.
“Since the kids enjoyed Sonar [singing] Matt Maher songs, we are planning a reunion during the SPO Elegate event,” she said. St. Paul’s Outreach is hosting “Elegate,” a night full of praise and worship for youth and young adults ages 17-27 Aug. 9.
“That’s the great thing about kids attending Steubenville conferences, it keeps bringing them back to experience more,” she said.