Teens experience community and praise at Steubenville East

https://goo.gl/Rwwzmp

LOWELL -- Steubenville East, held at University of Massachusetts Lowell's Tsongas Center, July 14 to July 16, wasn't exactly what first-timer attendee Maggie Van Dyne was expecting, but she's not disappointed.

She said she thought "it would be a lot more dull," with a laugh, speaking to The Pilot July 15.

Yet dull, said Van Dyne, a rising high school junior from Chelmsford, isn't what she got.

"The first thing (attendees experience) when we walked into the Tsonga Arena was music blaring and everyone getting really excited," she said. "It was like we were at a concert or something."

"It was a great time to kind of connect with the people around us we didn't know through that kind of music, even if it was just 10 minutes of us jumping up and down. It was fun," she said.

Van Dyne was one of hundreds of youths from across the region who attended Steubenville East, one of five Steubenville Youth Conferences that are held annually by Life Teen around the United States. The conference is focused on providing teens and youth groups with opportunities to meet other likeminded Catholics, learn more about the messages of the Gospel and strengthen their bonds with Jesus.

During the three-day conference, teens attended workshops, Masses, prayer sessions, and keynote talks, while also participating in reconciliation and eucharistic adoration. Live music was also provided.

Speakers and musicians during this year's conference included Chris Mueller, Jon Niven, Father Jose Robles-Sanchez, Leah Darrow, Joel Stepanek, and Kelly Colangelo.

Darrow was perhaps the most well-known speaker. A one-time contestant on the reality television show "America's Next Top Model" and a former professional model, Darrow is now a Catholic speaker and author.

In her keynote talk to the teens July 15, she spoke about her falling away from the Catholic Church when she was a teenager, her life as a model, and finally her transition to an advocate for the faith.

Her initial break from the Church began, she said, when she lost her virginity at 15 years old. It was from that "moment I began to identify myself and see myself as my sin, as my shame, and as my guilt," Darrow said.

Thinking God wouldn't forgive her sin, "I allowed the world to tell me what love was, I allowed the world to tell me what beauty was and success was and identity and everything."

Motivated by fame and money, she ended up on "America's Next Top Model" and was modeling professionally.

Darrow's face began to appear on billboards and her paychecks "had a comma" in them. Yet, still, she recalled, she never felt at peace.

It was during a particularly sultry photoshoot that Darrow suddenly had the words "I made you for more" flood into her heart and into her mind. She internalized the words, realizing what they meant and perhaps where they came from, and left the shoot.

Darrow called her father, who greeted her with open arms and insisted she go to confession, an idea that she said frightened her after spending 10 years away from the Church.

"I identified so much with my guilt and my shame and my sins that I thought I was not worthy of Christ, clearly because I didn't know who Christ was," she said.

Yet, when she went to confession, she opened up, telling Christ all of her sins and her fears. The experience changed her.

"I gave Him my brokenness, and in return He gave me mercy and peace," she said.

"Tonight, you have this beautiful opportunity for adoration, and Christ is literally going to be walking up and down these aisles," she said, referring to the eucharistic adoration that would follow her talk.

"A conference won't save you. A good talk won't save you. There is only one person who saves -- Christ. Christ saves," she said.

"There is something powerful the Lord wants to do in your life, but only you can respond and only you can be there to answer the Lord when He says 'What do you want me to do for you?'" Darrow said to the teens.

Speaking to The Pilot following the Eucharistic Adoration, July 15, John William Perry, a rising sophomore from Enfield, Conn., said he enjoyed his time at the conference thus far.

"I like it a lot. It's a great experience. You get closer to Christ and it's really fun," he said, adding that this is his second year attending.

"There's always a sense of community when I come here, even with new people," he continued.

"I've always loved the whole experience."

Sarah Beard, a first-time adult attendee traveling with a group from Blue Hills Collaborative in Hyde Park, said she liked seeing so many youth get excited about the Catholic faith.

"Just to see the kids get so involved in their religion and their practice and their faith is inspiring to me," she said.

"To see so many children who are interested in not only this Life Teen movement but in the idea of God and in the idea of the Church is amazing."

World
Be grateful to parents, never insult them, pope says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Honoring mothers and fathers means being grateful for the gift of life and Christians should never insult anyone's parents, Pope ...

World
Canadian cardinal: Women should help screen, train priest applicants

Poznan, Poland, Sep 18, 2018 CNA.- Increasing the role of women in screening and training priests is among the steps that should be taken to prevent future ...

World
Vatican delegation will travel to China this month to finalize agreement, Chinese newspaper reports

Beijing, China, Sep 18, 2018 CNA.- A newspaper tied to the Chinese Communist Party reported Tuesday that a delegation of Vatican officials will head to ...

World
Cardinal Marx says mistakes were made, calls for change in German church

Cardinal Reinhard Marx, head of the German bishops' conference, admitted that mistakes were made in the German church's handling of sex abuse of minors ...

Nation
Church crisis response: Healing Masses, listening sessions, fasting

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- In response to the sexual abuse crisis in the church, Catholics are praying for victims, talking about their frustration and anger, ...

Nation
Pope names Minnesota priest as auxiliary bishop of Hartford

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Pope Francis has appointed Father Juan M. Betancourt, a priest in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, as auxiliary bishop ...

World
Listening church: Pope gives new vision for Synod of Bishops

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Synod of Bishops increasingly should be a structure for listening to the Catholic faithful, demonstrating a local bishop's concern ...

Nation
Director of Courage releases letter on Penn. abuse report

Washington D.C., Sep 17, 2018 CNA.- Courage International, an apostolate to support people with same sex-attraction in leading chaste lives, has issued ...

Nation
Richmond bishop apologizes to victims; commits to opening, reviewing files

RICHMOND, Va. (CNS) -- In celebrating the Diocese of Richmond's first Mass of Atonement for victims of abuse Sept. 14, Bishop Barry C. Knestout apologized ...

Nation
Stanford University to remove saint's name from some properties

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- California's Stanford University will strip the name of 18th-century Franciscan friar, St. Junipero Serra, from some of its properties ...

Nation
Catholic Charities distributes disaster relief to areas hit by Florence

RALEIGH, N.C. (CNS) -- The Carolinas were hard hit with record rainfall and flooding rivers from tropical storm Florence since it made landfall Sept. ...

Nation
Archbishop Lori assures diocese he's with them in journey toward healing

WHEELING, W.Va. (CNS) -- In his celebration of Mass at the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Wheeling Sept. 15, Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore said ...

World
Bishop takes a (sky) dive to get pilgrims to Lourdes

HOVE, England (CNS) -- "The Moth has landed," tweeted the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton. The tweet Sept. 14 and a similar post on the diocesan Facebook ...

World
Words, promises are not enough to prevent abuse, archbishop says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Inviting presidents of the world's bishops' conference to the Vatican to discuss abuse prevention reflects an understanding that ...

World
Pope praises Capuchin order's charism of authenticity, simplicity

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Capuchins are called to be men of peace, reconciliation and prayer and to be close to all people, Pope Francis told members of the ...

Nation
Path to healing starts with seeking forgiveness, Cardinal Wuerl says

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- A "Season of Healing" for sexual abuse survivors began in the Archdiocese of Washington with a Sept. 14 Mass at the Cathedral of St. ...

World
Archbishop McCarrick's unofficial role in Vatican-China relations

Vatican City, Sep 17, 2018 CNA.- Following reports that the Holy See and the People’s Republic of China could be about to sign an agreement ...

Nation
Archbishop Chaput: When we forget faith, we forget our humanity

Spokane, Wash., Sep 14, 2018 CNA.- When man tries to cling to reason and separate himself from faith, he forgets who he is and loses his source of hope, ...

World
Pope Francis warns priests against living a double life

Palermo, Italy, Sep 15, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- During a day trip to Sicily Saturday, Pope Francis told priests and religious to fight their vices and strive ...

World
What is the pontifical secret?

Vatican City, Sep 14, 2018 CNA.- Following the allegations made by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò about the case of Archbishop Theodore McCarrick, ...

World
Vatican publishes list of synod participants, including papal nominees

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- To the list of members of the Synod of Bishops elected by national bishops' conferences, Pope Francis added cardinals from 14 countries, ...

Nation
Addicts and their loved ones talk about life with opioid addiction

ARLINGTON, Va. (CNS) -- It was a Saturday night, and Billy was eating pizza and watching a sporting event in the basement bedroom of his residence, a ...

Nation
Signers of letter hope Vatican meeting will bring needed steps on crisis

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Signers of an open letter from Catholic women to Pope Francis urging "truth" and "transparency" on the growing sex abuse crisis expressed ...

Local
Community 'overwhelmed and shell-shocked' after gas explosions, says pastor

LAWRENCE -- Volunteers at St. Patrick Church's Cor Unum Meal Center were serving dinner when multiple natural gas explosions and fires broke out in homes ...

World
Down to earth: Vatican brings together world's meteorite curators

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy (CNS) -- Rocks, mineral debris and even dust from space are kept in special collections, museums and laboratories all over the ...

World
Algerian martyrs to be beatified in Algeria Dec. 8

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The beatification of 19 martyrs of Algeria, including the seven Trappist monks of Tibhirine, will be celebrated Dec. 8 in Oran, ...

Nation
'Anything but a picnic' - Cardinal Dolan on the Church's summer of scandal

New York City, N.Y., Sep 14, 2018 CNA.- Cardinal Timothy Dolan has spoken about how the extended sexual abuse scandals facing the Church have taken a ...

Local
Restoring and reimagining: Transformation at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross

BOSTON -- Considered by many to be the heart of the Archdiocese of Boston, the Cathedral of the Holy Cross is the largest Catholic church in New England, ...

Local
Archdiocese says Cardinal O'Malley will personally review all abuse letters

BRAINTREE (CAN) -- The Archdiocese of Boston has announced changes to the way it will process and respond to letters addressed to Cardinal Séan P. ...

Local
CM receives $2.5M grant from Yawkey Foundations

West Roxbury -- Catholic Memorial, a college-preparatory school for boys in grades 7 to 12, announced Sept. 5 that they have received a $2.5 million grant ...

Local
Father Christian Ohazulume removed from ministry

BRAINTREE -- The Archdiocese announced on Sept. 11 that it had removed a priest from ministry after receiving an allegation that he sexually abused a ...

Local
From Cardinal Seán's blog

This week I am in transit to Rome in anticipation of the next meeting of the C9 Council of Cardinals. So, I have asked Vivian Soper to share some reflections ...

Nation
Kavanaugh's birth control comments spur controversy -- What did he say?

Washington D.C. (CNA) -- Opponents of Judge Brett Kavanaugh have suggested that a reference to birth control pills as "abortion-inducing drugs" during ...

Nation
Missouri to enforce abortion regulations in wake of appeals court ruling

Jefferson City, Mo. (CNA) -- Missouri's health department announced Monday that it will immediately being enforcing state laws regulating abortion clinics ...