Cardinal helps youth celebrate their day at Marian Catholic
Young Catholics from all over the Midwest connected with Rio de Janeiro on Saturday at Marian Catholic High School.
Millions of young people celebrated World Youth Day 2013, the Brazilian version with Pope Francis in Rio and the Illinois event with Cardinal Francis George in Chicago Heights.
As a volunteer for the event and a representative of Marian Catholic High School, MCHS senior Kyle Brzeszkiewicz, 17, introduced George, of the Chicago Archdiocese, as one of the event’s speakers.
“It’s an honor, really,” Brzeszkiewicz said. “I think it’s just an amazing opportunity.” Brzeszkiewicz said George “could have been other places” but chose to join the young people instead.
“I’m very grateful for that.”
The same could be said for Brzeszkiewicz, who joined about 600 young people “from all walks of life (who) can come together in one place to share our beliefs, our stories,” he said.
Heather Gordon, Marian Catholic’s director of campus ministry, said five dioceses in the Midwest began coordinating WYD Midwest 2013 beginning in September 2012. She said Marian hosted the event, which previously was called WYD Chicago, for the first time this year.
“There’s a feeling that everything takes place on the North Side, so we wanted something on the South Side this year,” Gordon said.
About 200 young people from various parishes in the area made a “walking pilgrimage” to MCHS from St. Kieran Catholic Church in Chicago Heights the morning of the event. Gordon said the young people passed a large wooden cross from one to another “as they did in Brazil.”
The 10-hour day then began with a welcoming ceremony in the West Gym, followed by keynote speaker and recording artist Noelle Garcia-McHugh and her band, All in Ministry.
Catechetical sessions for small groups lasted throughout the afternoon.
The day ended with Mass celebrated by George. Earlier in the day, George led a breakout session, “The Mission of Jesus is our Mission.”
“This is an opportunity for young people in the church to come together and deepen their faith,” Gordon said. “This is an alternative for those who can’t go to Brazil.”
Miranda Melone, 18, of Monee, was happy to be at Marian Catholic. As a 2013 graduate who had recently been awarded the highest non-academic MCHS award, Dominican Veritas, Melone wanted to introduce her younger sister, Elisabeth, 14, to MCHS before she enters as a freshman in the fall.
“I’ve gone to things like this before,” Melone said, saying the pro-life March for Life event she’s attended four times in Washington, D.C., during her years at MCHS have been most meaningful for her.
”It’s a Marian thing. I’m supporting Marian. They do a good job building community here, building the Catholic faith, making it more personal for students,” Melone said.
Melone said the WYD Midwest event would help her sister experience a faith connection with others.
“It’s really cool to see so many young people who are so into their Catholic faith,” Melone said. “It’s a comfort knowing that you’re not alone. I think that knowledge strengthens your beliefs as well.”