Browsing The Northern Cross

Father Brandon Moravitz: Steubenville trip ignited faith and service in young people

Holy Spirit parish in Virginia, St. Mary’s parish in Cook and Resurrection parish in Eveleth had the great privilege of sending 48 of their teens and adults on a summer pilgrimage of faith to the Steubenville Mid-America Conference early in July. I have told many that it is incredibly difficult to put into words the experience the 48 of us had. When one has an authentic experience of encounter with the Lord, words seem so very inadequate! Yet, I am going to attempt to summarize of some of the highlights.

Father Brandon Moravitz
Father Brandon Moravitz
Guest columnist

On Tuesday morning, July 5, we all gathered at Holy Spirit for Mass to dedicate and commend our trip to the Lord. There were many tired eyes that morning considering it was Fourth of July the previous night, yet, our young people had a healthy anticipation for the week ahead. The rest of that day was spent traveling to Kansas City, where we would stay for three nights. We had the great opportunity to stay at a huge farm home that was able to host all of us. What a blessing! Once we arrived and got settled in, we had a barbecue and spent some time hanging out and concluded by praying the Night Prayer of the church together.

On Wednesday, we woke up and had the great grace of being able to visit three of the most beautiful churches in the Kansas City area. I was struck by how reverent and interested our teens were in learning about church history, architecture and numerous other things during our visit. At each church, we prayed a decade of the rosary, and at one of the churches, we celebrated Mass together. There was an incredible amount of spiritual maturity witnessed by all those we met at each church visit. I remember going to bed that night feeling like a proud “father”!

Steubenville youths
Everyone on the bus headed to their first stop, Kansas City. Youths from Virginia, Cook and Eveleth spent the week of July 4 traveling on a pilgrimage starting in Kansas City and culminating at the Steubenville Mid-America Conference. (Submitted photo)

On Thursday, the young women in our group spent the day with two communities of religious sisters. They got a chance to meet some incredibly inspiring women who are laying down their lives for Christ. The girls were able to hear more about the life of the religious sisters, pray with the sisters, have lunch, play volleyball and so much more. While the ladies were with the sisters, the young men went to the Kansas City Children’s Hospital and prepared a meal for many of the families who are there facing the suffering of their ill children. It was a beautiful moment for me to be able to help serve these families. The boys worked hard at getting the meal together and welcomed all those we served with grace. I am hoping and praying we can continue to create a spirit of service in our youth at the local level.

On Friday, the young people woke up to Father Drew Braun and I flipping pancakes for breakfast. It was a great end to our time in Kansas City. After breakfast and thanking our hosts in Kansas City, the group packed up the bus and headed off to Springfield, Missouri, for the Steubenville Mid- America Conference. It was awesome to see the “wow factor” in the teens’ eyes when they first walked into the arena and saw 5,000 of their peers singing and excited for the conference. Our teens’ faces were filled with smiles, and their eyes had a hope and joy in them that we often don’t see due to the cultural pressures they face day in and day out. I saw freedom of heart that only Christ can give. Throughout the rest of the weekend, our teens were able to experience Mass with 5,000 of their peers and more than 60 priests; more than 3,000 teens went to confession; we had a powerful night of adoration on Saturday, where Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament was processed throughout the stadium and young person after young person had a personal encounter with Christ. By Sunday, we were physically tired, but our souls were soaring with the Joy of the Lord!

Since being home, many of our teens have been coming to daily Mass. Many have visited the adoration chapel to pray and be with the Lord. This week was not just a “week away,” but it really should be the way we live out our parish life. We ought to be a people of unity, a people who keep Jesus in the sacraments at the heart of who we are, a people who serve those around us and a people who know the joy that comes from a relationship with Jesus Christ and his church.

I thank all those who continue to work so hard at making our parish such a blessed place. I look forward to the days ahead, and I hope our young people will inspire us to keep the desire for holiness our highest priority. Let’s keep praying for one another. Peace be with you!

Father Brandon Moravitz is pastor of Holy Spirit Church in Virginia.