Youth urged to share faith, love God and neighbor

Categories: Around the Diocese

What defines success?” musician John Angotti asked the approximately 500 youth gathered in a gym at St. John’s University in Collegeville. “Is success defined by what’s in your bank account, or is success defined by how you love?”

Society’s answer too often is that money is more important people, that you have to act a certain way or look a way to be loved, he said.

“It’s a lie.”

The self-described “music missionary,” from Memphis, Tenn., was the keynote speaker at the St. Cloud Diocese’s annual Senior High Youth Rally Oct. 26.


Youth prayed with DJ Bill Lage, the event’s emcee, at the start of the St. Cloud Diocesan Senior High Youth Rally Oct. 26 at St. John’s University. Photos by Dianne Towalski

Through word, music and his own personal testimony, Angotti delivered a message to the youth that God loves them, that it’s important to see the world through a Gospel lens and share their faith with others, and that they need to recognize Christ in the people they encounter every day.

Just before Mass in the Abbey Church with Bishop Donald Kettler, Angotti told the youth: “The transformative part of the Mass … is at consumption, when all of a sudden Christ present in the sacrament is now Christ present in me. And, I need to be different. I need to be changed. … At the end of Mass we’re sent out — sent back out on this mission of love together as one people.”

During his homily, Bishop Kettler shared a similar message with a reflection on the Gospel account of the Pharisee who asked Jesus which commandment in the law is the greatest.

“Jesus tells us today that his most important directive, his main commandment, is to love God as much as possible and love our neighbors like we want others to love us,” the bishop said.

“Loving our neighbor does not mean only doing good things for them,” he added. “It also means caring that they, too, will someday get to heaven. It means helping them to get to know Jesus by our loving and caring for them.”


Youth sang along with “music missionary” John Angotti, the event’s keynote speaker. Photos by Dianne Towalski

  He told a story about a man who once asked his goddaugh-ter which doll in her collection was her favorite. The girl went into her room and returned with the most tattered doll he had ever seen — its hair was missing, the nose was broken off and an arm was cracked.

The man said to her: “Why do you love this one the most?” The little girl replied: “Because she needs it most. If I didn’t love her, nobody would.”

“That should be how we keep the commandment to love God and to love our neighbor as ourselves,” Bishop Kettler said.

The youth contributed $856 during the collection at Mass for the Child Survival Project, which seeks to improve the lives of young people in the Diocese of Homa Bay, Kenya, whose families are affected by HIV/AIDS.

Asking questions


Theresa Liebsch, left, and Carolyn Dinkel from St. Mary of Mount Carmel Parish in Long Prairie participated in an icebreaker activity during the rally. Photos by Dianne Towalski

The rally included a challenge talk by the Diocesan Youth Council, performance by the JP II Players, recreation opportunities, exhibitors and a dance. It also featured a question-and-answer session with Bishop Kettler, Angotti, Benedictine Abbot John Klassen of St. John’s Abbey and Benedictine Sister Michaela Hedican, the prioress of St. Benedict’s Monastery in St. Joseph.

The questions from youth — some of which were submit-ted via the rally’s Twitter hashtag, #STCrally2014 — covered a wide range of topics from “When did you decide to become a priest, or sister or music missionary?” and “What do you do for fun?” to “What is your favorite type of prayer form?” and “What is your favorite Bible verse?” (Bishop Kettler cited three consecutive stories in chapter 15 of Luke’s Gospel that emphasize God’s care and forgiveness: the parables of the lost sheep, the lost coin and the prodigal son).

Two individuals at the rally received awards. Sam Manning of Christ Our Light Parish in Princeton and Zimmerman received the St. Timothy Award, the highest recognition from the National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry that a di-ocese can give to a youth. Melissa Fox of St. Marcus Parish in Clear Lake received the Companions on the Journey Award, the highest honor from the NFCYM that a diocese can award to an adult. (See stories on the St. Timothy Award and Companions on the Journey)

The next Senior High Youth Rally is set for Oct. 25, 2015, with keynoter Steve Angrisano.