Well, after a day of recovery and now struggling through a day in the office, I finally get a chance to catch up some thoughts from the weekend in Columbus.
First a note on the prayer request from last week. I've got more information on the accident that took the life of one of the participants. It seems the Las Vegas contingent arrived in Columbus late Thursday evening, after a delayed flight. A number of them were hungry, and there was a fast food place across the street (Wendy's?). A number of people from the contingent went, including a number of chaperones. Walking back, she was struck and killed by a passing motorist, who left the scene. I never heard if they found the perp. In response, the Las Vegas contingent returned home the next morning. All through the weekend, the teens were able to leave messages for her family, and she was mentioned frequently in prayer.
Ok, on to better news: it was great to see/meet so many people. I tend to be a strong extrovert, so being in a crowd of people is a great deal of fun. (Hey, to the anonymous who didn't come up and say 'HI!' why not?!?!) I saw a number of my fellow Vocation Directors perusing the crowd, usually hanging out in front of the Salesian table (they had more yo-yo's!).
The crowd of teens seemed to be really into the event. They were well behaved, the usual riotous type that happens at these Catholic Love Fests, as I've heard them called. I spoke to a few of the cops and security detail, and their response was something along the lines of: This was the easiest detail I've ever had!
Speakers were of the usual quality, although I only heard Renee (?) on Saturday morning. She was a choral teacher at a high school in Southern California, engaged to be married, and had turned the choir from 12 members to 150, when she faced a traumatic injury. She spoke of overcomeing adversity, as well as recognizing that there is no such thing as co-incidence; but that is the way that God manifests Himself to us. Really powerful stuff.
After she finished, Steve, the MC for the week, related a story from his past, which I used for my homily this past weekend. He is the youth minister at the Catholic parish in Littleton, CO, where Columbine High School is located. He told of how he was at a meeting with a number of parents that fateful day, when a cell phone rang, and mourning and wailing happened right before his eyes. (The parish had four of the funerals from that day.) It turns out, the girl that was the source of the call was injured severerly, but survived. She spoke at her high school graduation a few years later and told of that day. She was hiding under a table in the library with how many others. They came up to her and asked: "Do you believe in God?" She said that she didn't want the last thing that she said on this earth to be a denial of God, so she said: "Yes." "Why?" (Aside: I wasn't really expecting a follow up question) "Because my parents handed it on to me and I now believe it as my own." She admitted that it was a stupid answer, but the best she could do at the time. (She was staring down the barrel of a gun!) Steve told her at the end of the ceremony: "That was the perfect answer, and totally Catholic! You received it and now hand it on."
The line for confessions was incredible. There were up to 80 priests hearing confessions at a time, one would get up and another would take his place. It was non-stop, and they were well thought out, and the teens were seriously searching after God. It was inspiring.
The final Mass was a let down, after all that. The Mass itself was good, the energy of the teens, 25,000 in the Arena was earthshattering. But the homily was, at least to me, a let down. The readings for the weekend were just ripe for the picking, but nothing too challenging. Typical.
Anyway, now the question arises of how to tap into this energy for vocations. Something to think about, for sure.