Awards banquet celebrates youth, mentors

RANDOLPH -- The Archdiocese of Boston honored 65 youth and those who minister to them in a dozen categories at the Youth Ministry Awards Banquet Nov. 16. The annual ceremony, held at Lombardo’s, awards those who have excelled in youth ministry, young adult ministry and CYO Sports.

The Catholic faith is shared and nurtured in the parishes of the archdiocese through this ministry, said Joanne Curry, director of the Office of Life and Family Ministries.

“Tonight we come together to celebrate with joy the gifts of our youth, young adults and their mentors in our archdiocese,” she said.

A video featuring Gospel Road, a service program for youth that is held for a week during the summer, played at the beginning of the banquet.

Father Chris O’Connor, vice-rector of St. John’s Seminary in Brighton, spoke about the program, which engages young people in service, daily Mass, adoration, confession, team building and games.

“The focus of Gospel Road is to serve because Christ loves us and we desire to imitate Christ’s love,” he said.

Father Richard Erikson, vicar general and moderator of the curia, spoke in his keynote address about the need for Christians to be unafraid to live and promote the Gospel.

He recounted a story about visiting a music store and trying to purchase an edited version of Jennifer Lopez’s “Let’s Get Loud.” Father Erikson, whose love for music is “deep and eclectic,” said the song to him means being strong and not being afraid to express beliefs.

The cashier, however, questioned Father Erikson’s decision to buy the edited version.

“That little experience I had in the CD shop speaks to me a bit about the challenges we have in trying to make good and right decisions in our society. So many of those around us do not understand when we decide to live our lives morally, particularly, as is always the case, when our commitment involves sacrifice,” he said.

He commended the youth being honored as examples to their peers. They are voices of hope and inspiration to others, he said.

“You are drowning the cultural noise around us and you are providing a moral voice,” he said. “Let our voices and our actions spread the love of Jesus Christ and the power of his word. In the great words of the humble American poet, Jennifer Lopez, ‘Let’s get loud.’”