By: Vince Marcantonio
It has been quite the summer here at Holy Name, the Religious Education department (that is – yours truly) has been all over the map. We’ve had bonfires and cookouts, catechesis over at Metlakatla, a yard sale, a young adult group, and most recently, we returned from an absolutely rockin’ Steubenville Northwest Conference in Spokane, Washington!
This year we had three youngsters, two young adults, and one Youth Minister (that’s me!) in attendance. We flew down to Spokane on July 26 and quickly retired to the shopping mall and Red Robin to recuperate from our travels. We were assigned to the air-conditioned dorm because the conference organizers thought their hot, dry weather might harm our frail Alaskan constitutions. The next day, we woke bright and early for a day of fun, sun, and fellowship at Silverwood Amusement Park in Idaho. The kids were allowed in the park early and had ridden all the rides by noon. On Friday, after a trip to the mall for some school shopping, we began the conference part of our trip. For those of you who are unfamiliar, Steubenville Northwest is an outreach ministry of the Franciscan University of Steubenville. Conferences are held around the country so that young Catholics everywhere have a chance to encounter and grow to love Jesus Christ through the Eucharist and hear talks by preeminent Catholic speakers.
We were honored to have Fr. Mike Schmitz (of Ascension Presents) for the whole weekend – as well as praise music provided by Ben Walther and his band. The kids had a magnificent time and it was a joy to see them engaging so readily with the praise and worship music. They were real troopers too – some sessions would last three or four hours (and much of that was kneeling & standing). It was a special blessing to attend a Men’s Session with our youth and to discuss fatherhood and brotherhood. I was proud of them for how maturely they handled a hard-hitting “chastity talk”. It was tough for all of us to leave on Sunday. However, as one of our speakers pointed out, even Jesus came down from the mountains to deal with the real world. I am confident this little retreat will help the youth of Holy Name to confront the world with more spiritual depth and trust in Our Lord.
Although Steubenville may have come to an end, summer is far from over here at Holy Name. Next week, we will be visited by the monks & students of St. Vincent’s College in LaTrobe, Pennsylvania. They will be doing work around the parish and school, as well as working with our kids, and experiencing all that summer in Alaska can offer. I am especially excited to treat them to a proper beach bonfire with our nascent Young Adult Ministry. If you haven’t heard about them yet – it’s because they’re a new ministry as of this June. We’ve had cookouts, bonfires, and prayer time so far. We’ll be transitioning to some Bible studies once the school year gets started again. Look for more news from the Salmon Capitol of the World soon.