Ablaze! — Newly initiated night aims to fire up teens in their faith

Categories: Around the Diocese

February 14, 2014, edition
By Sue Schulzetenberg-Gully
Photos by Sue Schulzetenberg-Gully

The screen read “Ablaze! Waking the New Generation” as some 55 teens gathered, then lyrics flashed up on it as a praise and worship band sang “Blessed be your name.”

The young people chatted with each other and listened to the music until they were welcomed by Stephen Schneider, a student at St. Cloud State University.


Seth Forster performs in a skit.

“We want this to be a place where you can come and be invigorated to grow in your faith,” Schneider said.

Ablaze! is a new monthly event for high school teens. It kicked off Feb. 8 at Cathedral School in St. Cloud. Consisting of praise and worship, skits, discussion, adoration and pizza, it is designed to help teens develop a relationship with Christ.

“We want to appeal to youth who look at the world differently than previous generations,” said Father Ben Kociemba, who is spearheading Ablaze!

The parochial vicar at St. John Cantius, Holy Spirit and St. Anthony parishes in St. Cloud, Father Kociemba explained, “The motivation and how they receive the faith is different. The focus is on a personal connection.”

The nights, which are supported by donations, are geared toward St. Cloud youth but are open to all teens. They’re planned by Father Kociemba and a core team that includes a teacher, director of religious education, youth minister, musician and youth.


Stephen Schneider (left) and youth bless Patrick Flynn (right) before he gives a talk at the “Ablaze! Waking the New Generation” program.

Mark Levandowski, liturgy director at St. Francis Xavier Parish in Sartell, and worship ensemble members from his parish as well as Jonathan Rydberg of St. John Cantius Parish in St. Cloud and Mike Lentz, coordinator of Central Minnesota Together Encountering Christ, lead the glory and praise music. Priests are invited so the teens can meet them and get to know them better.

College students plan details, emcee the event and lead small groups, skits and icebreakers. Before each event, they will meet early to discuss the night, participate in lectio divina and praise and worship and then practice their skits and icebreakers. The college students will spend 15 minutes in individual prayer for the youth daily.

“We want to get young people to come back to the church and be strong in the church,” Father Kociemba said.

For the first gathering, the youth participated in icebreakers like “I Got Mail” and “Stir the Mush.” They watched a skit about God’s love and then listened to a talk by Patrick Flynn, a theology teacher at Cathedral School, about Jesus thinking about his mother when he was on the cross.


Teens divided into small groups to discuss a talk by Patrick Flynn, theology teacher at Cathedral School in St. Cloud.

Teens divided into small groups to discuss Flynn’s talk, then participated in eucharistic adoration and afterward had pizza and soda.

“It was a really cool experience,” said Nick Ringsmuth, 17, a member of St. John Cantius Parish in St. Cloud. “It was really cool seeing Father Ben here tonight. You can see this side of him. The college students seem really down-to-earth. They interacted with me in a way that some older people don’t.”

Ana Bates, a 13-year-old member of St. Augustine Parish in St. Cloud, called the event “inspiring.”

“It was inspiring how everyone [who led activities] brought something like joy mixed with peace,” she said. “And I love adoration. It’s quiet and you can talk to God.”

The next Ablaze! nights will be March 15, April 12 and May 10. All will begin at 8 p.m. at Cathedral School cafeteria in St. Cloud.

For more information contact Father Kociemba at 320-249-8125 or ablaze.new.generation@gmail.com. Check it out on Facebook at facebook.com/ablazenewgeneration or Twitter at twitter.com/ablazenewgen.


Teens participated in eucharistic adoration.


Father Ben Kociemba presides at adoration that is part of the Ablaze! event.




Teens participated in eucharistic adoration.