Lexington teens prepare for Catholic Youth Rally

LEXINGTON — They call themselves “TLC,” an acronym that stands for Teen Leadership Crew.

On Jan. 24, this group of Lexington teens braved sub-zero temperatures and raced to Sacred Heart Church.

Their mission? To rehearse their play — “Where Everybody Knows Your Name” — in anticipation of the Catholic Youth Rally to be held on Feb. 7 at Merrimack College, Andover.

"Where Everybody Knows Your Name" is but one of several presentations being prepared by youth throughout the archdiocese. These presentations reflect the ethnic diversity of the Archdiocese of Boston.

The rally, which is open to all young people between the ages of 13 and 19, “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,” said Stephen Colella, coordinator of training and formation for the Office for Youth Ministry.

According to Colella, about one dozen parishes have signed up to showcase their talents at the rally. Their presentations are varied. Some will present culturally diverse dances; others will bring traditional food.

"Each group brings to the rally a unique aspect of what it means to be a part of the Church," Colella said.

For the youth of Sacred Heart in Lexington, their concept of participating in the universal Church is embodied in “Where Everybody Knows Your Name.”

The play begins with one “lonely guy” struggling to be accepted by his peers. As others mock and tease him, the narrator points out that there exists a place where everyone is both loved and called to love others — the Church.

To be a part of the Church, the play goes on to say, is also to be called to “bring the good news of salvation to everyone.”

High school junior Tori Cimino, 16, originally came up with the idea for the short play, although the final product was the result of a collective effort of the TLC group.

"Tori came up with the initial idea," explained Sarah Andryauskas, 17, "but then the rest of us gave our opinions and ideas. In the end, we all just read what we had written down and thought, 'Yeah, that's good.'"

In order to ensure that the skit was theologically sound, the group showed the skit to Father Chris O’Connor, a Chelmsford priest who celebrates a monthly Youth Mass at Sacred Heart.

"Father Chris gave us a few suggestions about how to make the play better, and then we started with the rehearsals," narrator Patrick Healey, 15, said.

"I can't even begin to tell you how proud I am of these guys," beamed Maureen McKeown, coordinator of youth ministry for Sacred Heart. "Most of them have absolutely no experience with anything like [the Catholic Youth Rally]. This is a huge step for them."

According to McKeown, the youth group’s cohesiveness is “simply amazing.”

"I'm hoping that participating in this rally will bring them even more close," she said.

The Catholic Youth Rally will be held Feb. 7 at Merrimack College, Andover, from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. Registration is required. For more information contact the Office for Youth Ministry at 617-472-0333 or www.oymboston.org.