By Emily Drooby
On October 24, buses arrived at Holy Family Church in Fresh Meadows, Queens carrying hundreds of Catholic middle school students.
Kids poured inside the church for a prayer rally as part of a special afternoon spent building their relationship with God into something that will withstand the test of time.
Holy Family’s youth minister, Rachel Burgos, knows just how important events like this can be for faith formation.
“I used to go to these types of events and they really meant a lot to me. When I was a part of it I would get excited. I would love meeting new people, and it helped me grow deeper in my relationship with God to go to these events,” she recalled.
That deep relationship inspired her to become a youth minister, helping others grow closer to God like the students at the rally.
“Events like this helps to strengthen their faith because it takes Jesus out of a textbook and makes it a real person somebody they can have a relationship with,” said Paul Morisi, the director of Youth and Young Adult Formation for the Brooklyn Diocese.
“And the more of these things that we can do that help the church come alive in a real and meaningful way to them, the better off our church is and the lives of these young people will be,” he added.
Event leaders explained how these events especially target the youth through worship, a faith discussion by youth minister Lauren Gentry and adoration.
“Studies are showing that people are leaving the church at younger ages, so gatherings like this help to mold young people into good Catholics,” said Morisi, noting that especially for middle school students, that’s around the age kids begin questioning their faith.
Students also practiced the Catholic value of loving thy neighbor by bringing donations for a homeless outreach program.
“The message is very simple: that they’re made to be loved by God and their vocation is to love others in the same way,” said Father Sean Suckiel, pastor of Holy Family Church.