by Thomas Coppola
The 2015 Steubenville Youth Conference in Orlando held the weekend of July 17-20 brought 2,000 high school students and nearly 20 seminarians together from around the state. The youth witnessed to the fact that they are not just the church of the future but today as well.
“The conference made me realize how active the youth is today, and that gave me hope for the Church,” said Angel Garcia, a second-year seminarian of the Diocese of Orlando. “It motivated me to see them praising God.”
Garcia’s motivation for his vocation is renewed from the inspiration of God’s people. His mission as a seminarian is to use that inspiration and channel it to serve the Church, hopefully one day as a priest.
The theme for conference was “Limitless” and is based on the Scripture, “I came that you might have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). The conference emphasized how the abundance of life is limitless, just as God Himself is limitless. Speakers taught the young people how God gave his life on the cross so that others may live.
Seminarians, too, witness to God by laying down their lives so that others may live. And they did so through service at the Steubenville conference.
“I witness to a life of faith by living the light of Christ,” said seminarian Eddiel Rivera, of Holy Redeemer Parish, Kissimmee. Rivera commented on his experience at the conference: “My main responsibilities were to help with organizing confession lines, altar serving at liturgies, manning the vocations table, and reaching out in prayer.”
The light of Christ, for Rivera, shows itself through humble service. As the candle bearer for Sunday’s Mass, Rivera resembled the candle he held: a constant, unwavering witness to life, energy, and the vibrant faith of the Church. He reflected his purpose to remind people of Christ.
Seminarians Rivera and Garcia received something intangible for their concrete works of charity: a confirmation of their vocations.
“Saturday’s adoration of the Blessed Sacrament reminded me of my youth group in Puerto Rico. Then, I first felt God was calling me to be a priest. I had that same feeling last night, which reminded me and was a confirmation. I said, ‘Yes, Lord, I will follow you.’”
Garcia’s words are a response to Jesus’ first public words some 2,000 years ago: “Come, follow me.” These words continue to stir the hearts of men to consider the priesthood.
Garcia explained how being called is not something reserved for priests and religious. “All are called. Our job is to find out what that call is. Some are called to the priesthood and religious life, others to the diaconate, consecrated single life, or marriage. We must always be open to hear what the Lord wants.”
He encourages people to step away from daily activities through silence and seek God’s will.
That message of actively seeking God summed up the experience for conference attendee, Amy Roldan. For her, the conference could be expressed in two words: “I thirst.” She said, “Silent time and reading of Scripture is important.”
Teeming with energy, she added her perspective on the conference theme: “Nothing is impossible for God—that is the meaning of a limitless God.” Amy overflowed with excitement that had its source in a thirsting heart. Her missionary-like zeal was an incarnation of the conference’s theme of God’s abundant, limitless life.
The youthful vigor displayed during the conference witness to the abundant life of Christ.