Sister brings national spirit to Salina conference

March 29, 2010 by

More than 630 teens gathered in Salina last week (March 27 & 28) for the annual Diocesan Youth Convention. The youth came from around 45 parishes throughout the Salina Diocese, and gathered at South High School.  The theme for the weekend was “Peace, Love and Christ,” and Sister Barbara Ellen Apaceller offered this welcome as the event began. Sister Barbara Ellen, a member of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia, serves as the diocesan Director of Youth Ministry and Religious Education based in Salina.


I would also like to welcome you to this 2010 Diocesan CYO Convention.

Thank you Bishop Coakley and Mayor Luci Larson for your warm welcome to this wonderful group of young people of our Diocese.

For many of us this is our second gathering for this year.  We had over 1,Sister Barbara 025 attend the National Catholic Youth Conference (NCYC) in Kansas City last November and what a wonderful, faithfilled experience that was for all of us.  I will never forget Friday morning when we were at the Sprint Center as I  looked around,  and saw all  those  neon green t-shirts glowing.  What a beautiful sight!  I was so proud of our diocese—-we were the largest group at this conference.  I like to share a few of the comments from some young people who attended NCYC:

“I am still in awe of the sight of witnessing 20,000 plus people drop to their knees in silence together to pray to such a wonderful God.   A huge void in my heart was filled with happiness after spending time visiting with the priest in reconciliation and the time spent alone in adoration.  There were thousands of people in the building but the adoration chapel was so peaceful and I have never felt so close to God.  What we experienced this weekend was beyond words.”

“Before I went to NCYC, I had pretty much become an atheist.  I felt no presence of God in my life; I thought that the whole ‘God thing’ was a myth.  I had conducted further research, and found my belief, or lack thereof. For some reason, I decided to try NCYC.  I said the night before, ‘God, if you’re there, this is your last chance.’  I figured I’d roll my eyes and walk out of it feeling no different. Then it happened, all 22,000 of us in the Sprint Center were in Adoration.  At first, my only thought  was — my knee pain.  Then without warning I felt a presence that could only have been Christ.  It overcame me for at least 10 minutes.  This moment changed me forever, and there’s no question now of my faith.”

I loved all of it!  I didn’t really have a favorite part.   It was all great!  I learned a lot.   In one session I learned that heaven and hell aren’t places but people and if you have God in the afterlife then you have heaven.  Just the opposite for hell.  I had never thought about it that way.   In another session we talked about the Eucharist and I knew how important that the Eucharist is, but I have never really appreciated it and now I do.  The chastity talk was something I loved!  I have already decided to NOT have sex before marriage but my friends always make fun of me and call me a goody-two-shoes.   I have let my thoughts and morals veer a little when they do this to me, but now I know where I stand, and I’m not moving anymore.  That talk made me think really hard about my future husband out there somewhere.  NCYC was a great experience.”

“Going to confession was an amazing experience.  Just seeing so many people lined up at once receiving God’s mercy was so cool.”

“Adoration was very amazing and touching.  God was truly present in our midst.”

These are only but a few of the comments that your adult leaders sent to me from you.  Christ certainly was present in each of our lives that weekend.  It is our challenge now to keep the fire burning and share it with others.

As I met with the Diocesan Youth Council in January we were sharing with one another  what NCYC meant to us.  We started talking about Adoration and the Sacrament of Reconciliation and decided that we would like to integrate these two things in our own Diocesan Convention.  So this afternoon Bishop Coakley will give a short talk and then we will have some time to sit/kneel quietly and just “be” in the presence of God.  We will also have some 15 priests available for the Sacrament of Reconciliation between 1:00 – 3:00 p.m.  this afternoon.

As you spend time with your friends and share with them what is going on in your life your friendship grows and that is exactly what happens  in our relationship with Jesus Christ.  You’ll have some 30 minutes to connect with this special friend of yours this afternoon.

There is nothing better in the world than to be known and loved by someone you care about.  When you are loved by a good friend, that friend can help you gain a greater understanding of yourself and grow as a person.

True friendship is based on values rather than superficial characteristic.  And of course, as the saying goes, if you want to have a true friend, you must be a true friend.

Jesus was a true friend, the truest of all.  He focused on the needs of others, he saw  their potential, he had dreams  for them.  He prayed with them, he ate with them, he laughed and cried with them.  Jesus showed us how it’s done—–our model, our Lord, our friend.

Jesus tells us that he is our friend, and that he loves us wholeheartedly and unconditionally.  Look at what he did to show us how much he loves us!  He wants us to love one another just as he loves us—–with all our heart and without any hesitation.

(Music from “HOW COULD YOU SAY NO” by Steve Angrisano)

The love of Jesus fills our hearts, transforms our minds, and shows us the possibilities of genuinely loving others.  If we open our hearts to his love, then we love our neighbor the way

Jesus loves us.  Jesus’ love is the gift that keeps on giving.

As I look around our diocese I see you sharing your gifts that keeps on giving: over 350 youth and adults participated in the Prayer and Action last summer.  Out of the 7 weeks this summer we have 3 weeks that are closed already because of the 60+ that are registered.  TOTUS TUUS program—-we have 3 teams this summer and all the college age students that are on the teams are from our diocese.  I’ve been so impressed with the interviews and their application forms.  Christ is certainly alive and well.  Counsellors at Junior CYO Camp are signing up for this years camp.  We have about 40 counsellors and many of them are college age students.  What an example they are to the junior high age campers in sharing their faith and love for Christ with them.  The guy counsellors got together about 3 times during the year to pray together, have a meal and just to support one another.  A new program in our diocese PROJECT FREEDOM an overnight and day retreat for 8th graders and their parents on Sexuality—a number of our college students are team leaders.  I could go on and on and share all the wonderful things that are going on.

I want to share a few things from the scrapbooks that you are doing in your parishes and local communities:

  • Puppet show of the scripture for the small children at the Sunday liturgy
  • Raking leaves  for the elderly and those not able to get out
  • Cooking meals for a local family in need
  • Pro-Life chain on October 18, 2009
  • Collected eyeglasses and prescription sunglasses to send to Unite for Sight in Africa
  • Donated money to Catholic Relief Services Europe to help fight human trafficking
  • Sponsoring an orphan from Peru
  • Prayer Blankets to the homeless shelter in Denver
  • Provide home cooked meals either for breakfast or dinner—also include notes or scripture versus to encourage them–inmates at Sherman County Jail
  • Delivered candy hugs, kisses & kudos to the civil servant employees in our community-with a card letting them know how much we appreciate all that they do to serve and protect our community—held a prayer service—police, sheriff’s office, fire department, road workers, hospital, court house, SRS and Highway Patrol
  • Special Olympics
  • Relay for Life
  • Drive by Prayers
  • Food Pantry

There is so much more that our young people are involved in their parishes—these are only a few.

And, so I want to end with this prayer:

Spirit of Jesus, watch over these young people.

Show them your loving acceptance and support.

Help them to honestly look at themselves and the

decisions they are making.  If they experience pain,

frustration, or failure, give then strength to lean on you.

Fill their days with laughter and love.

Protect them and keep them safe all the

days of their lives.  Amen

Glad you’re here — ENJOY this weekend.

Comments

7 Responses to “Sister brings national spirit to Salina conference”

  1. Jodi Creten on April 5th, 2010 8:48 am

    The heart of our charism pulsates in those youth because you are willing to put yourself out there to share who you are and who Jesus is in you.
    Thanks, Barb, for all that you do for so many—one at a time!

  2. Halli Stone on April 4th, 2010 7:54 pm

    Sr Barb,
    I just wanted to let you know that you are a big reason as to why our Diocese is the way it is! You are great with the youth and you make us want to stay around as long as we can. So thank you for all you do and I am very Blessed to have you in my life!

  3. Margaret Nacke on April 2nd, 2010 2:29 pm

    Barbara Ellen,

    I am very proud of you and all that you accomplish. Thanks for continuing to inspire the youth of our diocese.

  4. Beth Stover on April 2nd, 2010 12:19 pm

    Congratulation, Barb, on another fabulous Salina Diocesan CYO Convention. You are definitely the spirit and inspiration that calls and gathers these youth and parents from around the diocese.
    Thank you for giving so generously and for being front and center with the CSJ charism of love for the dear neighbor. And the youth are very precious neighbors to whom you offer the opportunity to know and experience God in their lives.
    Blessings,
    Beth

  5. Sylvia Winterscheidt on April 1st, 2010 1:37 pm

    Congratulations, Barbara Ellen, on the inspiring work you do with and for the youth of the diocese. My heart rejoices with you when I see such an enthusiastic response to your ministry with youth. I know that road is not easy and simple, but you are using your givts well. Thanks in abundance!

  6. Liebe Pellerin, CSJ on March 30th, 2010 10:32 am

    Barbara Ellen,
    How wonderfully you share God’s love with the young people. They are braced in faith, hope and love because of your efforts. Thanks in the name of all of us Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia.

  7. Loretta Jasper, csj on March 30th, 2010 5:50 am

    I was present for most of the convention. I mostly sat, observed, mingled, and interacted with teens and parents. I soaked in the heart and spirit of this gathering of today’s youth in this past weekend at the Salina Diocesan CYO Convention. Simple word; short sentence: GOD IS HERE!
    Our CSJ Mission and charism was rippling throughout South High School in Salina throughout those nearly 48 hours. Barbara Ellen was the key person in creating this event. As she states, these events and wonders are a result of multiple partnerships provided by well over 20 parishes who particpated. These partnerships included participation from youth leaders, parish staff, pastors, AND parents who are willing to drive the physical distances and remain present for the duration of the convention. (Some parents made more than one roung trip across the State of KS for this event in order to also support and assist a teen who was also competing in the district music festival, or baseball or wrestling competition.)
    Yes! We CSJ’s were there on this weekend, and have remained present through the 28 year ministry of Barbara Ellen with several generations of youth. By now several generations of leaders have been created through the teaching, mentoring, and passing on the spirit of the gospel and committment to ministry.
    None of this happens without the undaunting support and assist of those 200+ parents(present just this past weekend) who continue to spend hours, days and weeks in support of the spiritual and ministerial development of their children.

    Is the CSJ Mission and Charism alive? YES!
    Are we finishes yet? NOPE!

    It was truly an honor to be present for this weekend.

    Loretta Jasper

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