Youth gear up for February rally.

In parishes throughout the archdiocese, young people are practicing their dance steps, rehearsing their lines, harmonizing their voices — all in anticipation of the Catholic Youth Rally 2004, to be held on Feb. 7 at Merrimack College in Andover.

According to Stephen Colella, coordinator of training and formation for the Office for Youth Ministry (OYM), “The Catholic Youth Rally ‘04 is a celebration of Catholic identity, a joyful welcome to the new archbishop and a call to rebuild the Church as a sign of hope to the peoples of every culture and national background.”

"This is a chance for the youth of Boston to meet with their new archbishop," explained Father Thomas Dunne, SDB, OYM director, who first conceived of the rally. "[It] is based on the words the archbishop quoted at his Installation Mass -- 'Francis, rebuild my Church.' Young people have a role in rebuilding this archdiocese."

Colella believes that “young people are often thought of as the Church of tomorrow, but they are very much a part of the dynamic Church of today.”

He believes the rally will show the “joyful energy, faith and zeal of the youth.”

"We want this to be a simple, hopeful, encouraging event that was a truly accurate slice of the archdiocese," he said. "We wanted this to be a rally, not a convention -- one that includes all young people throughout this archdiocese."

Although Colella is the point person for the event, OYM is but one of the archdiocesan agencies that make up the steering committee for the rally. Colella explained that by collaborating with others, “everyone brings with them their strengths, their perspectives and their faith.”

Colella believes that in collaborating, all the various ethnicities that make up the Archdiocese of Boston can be reached.

"Our goal is to present the archbishop an accurate slice of the archdiocese," asserted Colella.

According to Colella, ‘‘All youth groups, school groups, scouts, any organization that deals with young people are invited.”

"We're saying no to nobody," he chuckled.

In order to attend the Catholic Youth Rally, youth organizations must register with OYM. So far, the response has been overwhelmingly positive, said Colella. His hope is that 1,000 people will register for the rally.

"Truly this will be a celebration of the universal Church," he said.

Catholic Youth Rally 2004 is open to all youths, ages 13 to 19. In order to register your youth organization or to find out more information, please contact the Office for Youth Ministry at 617- 472-0333.