By Jessica Easthope
Every year, Brooklyn and Queens Catholic Youth Day is when young people from across the Diocese celebrate their faith together.
This year because of the coronavirus, the event went virtual and young women and men embraced their new sense of community online.
“I want to welcome y’all to our very first virtual Brooklyn Queens Catholic Youth Day,” said Brandon Morel, who enthusiastically opened the event as the emcee.
Youth Day was streamed live Saturday, May 30 on the diocese’s evangelization YouTube channel, and countless parishes tuned in. Hundreds of participants shared their thoughts in the comments section, a common way young people communicate with each other during the pandemic.
“Although things are a little different this year, our faith, our enthusiasm, our joy and our love for Jesus remains,” said Father James Kuroly.
The virtual Youth Day had all the staples of celebrations in years past. There was music, prayer, a presentation of cultural foods from around the Diocese and the latest social media trend, TikTok.
Before the virus shook the diocese, the keynote speaker at this year’s Youth Day was supposed to be Father Jorge Ortiz-Garay. Fr. Jorge passed away of COVID-19 in March.
“There was a particular priest who we want to dedicate this whole thing to. Brooklyn Queens Catholic Youth Day was scheduled to be a live event, and he opened his doors to us and we know what’s been going on,” said Brandon
Father Henry Torres, the Parochial Vicar of St. Sebastian’s Parish in Woodside, Queens gave the keynote address instead. He told the young men and women that God entered their hearts at baptism, and called that a privilege they should cherish throughout their lives.
“That is the greatest gift you and I have ever received was our baptism, it is through that gift that I am honored and blessed to call God father,” said Fr. Henry.
From the comments on the live stream, the very first virtual Youth Day was a success.