St.Andrew Youth Group on the Bayou
Our pilgrimage began in the early hours on the morning of Thursday, June 14, as 25 teens and their chaperones, from St. Andrew Catholic Church, loaded the bus that would lead them to Houma, Louisiana, for the Steubenville on the Bayou Catholic Youth Conference. The teens filed onto the bus tired, excited and ambivalent about the journey they were about to take. Many teens were venturing outside of Texas for the first time, yet their adventurous spirit, led them to move outside of their normal comfort zone.
During the next three days these teens were given the opportunity to encounter Jesus Christ in a profound manner. The theme of the conference was the Eighth Day. The MC, Tammy Evevard, gave us the best visual aid of what this meant. Tammy pulled out a long rope at least thirty feet long and stretched it all the way across the stage. The first foot of the rope was blue colored and the rest remained white. She said, “The blue part of the rope represented our life on earth and the white was eternity.” Tammy said, “We spend most of our life concerned about our life on earth, that small amount of time we have here, and almost no time thinking about eternity.” Throughout the weekend the speakers reminded us that what we do in this finite time in our lives determines how we will spend our eternity.
Each day we listened to talks given by internationally famous speakers such as Jason Evert and Paul George who know their Catholic faith well and are able to communicate it to teens. Jason spoke to the boys about chastity and respecting woman as sisters in Christ. He shared his decision to remain chaste and his wife’s experience of promiscuity, prior to their marriage, and how deeply that affected her. Paul George talked with the teens about not settling for simply being a good or mediocre Christian. He said, “The good or mediocre Christian goes out into the world and accomplishes nothing but great and holy people, like the saints, transform the world.”
Yet the most profound part of the weekend was centered on the Eucharist, the body and blood of Jesus Christ, which was present both in the mass and exposed on the Altar. Teens were given the opportunity to praise God with music before Jesus on the Altar, and the teens unanimously agreed that they felt the presence of God profoundly during this time. Brandon Martinez and Gabby Lopez said, “They found themselves having a conversation with God.” Vanessa Ortiz said, “That she had a great experience last year and was deeply touched this year, and would love to go again next year.” Alyssa Heredia stated, “That she really did not want to go on this trip and did it for her Mom, but felt God’s presence very deeply during Adoration.”
In leaving this wonderful Catholic Conference the teens and I acknowledged our deep gratitude to so many in our community who helped us raise the money to attend. We were also thankful for our Pastor Fr. Gilberto Vallejo who supported us in our efforts to make this pilgrimage. We will be having one last yard sale to make our final payment for the trip on Saturday, July 7, from 7 a.m. to 12 p.m. at St. Andrew’s Catholic Church, 626 Market St. We would greatly appreciate your help. If you have items to donate for the sale please contact Elizabeth Lyons at 830-569-3356 ext. 14. On behalf of St. Andrew’s Chiara Luce Youth Group I express my deepest gratitude to this community that realizes our teens are the future of our society and we need to form them well.