‘Big-time speakers’ lead to expansion of Youth Rally ’14

By: By Tom Dermody, The Catholic Post

With guest speakers like Chris Stefanick and Megan Mastroianni (pictured above) coming next month, organizers of the Diocese of Peoria’s Youth Rally ’14 are excitedly expanding their invitation to the event.

This year’s Youth Rally — scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 22, at the Spalding Pastoral Center in Peoria — will welcome eighth-graders as well as hundreds of high school students from around the diocese. In addition, a pre-rally overnight evening for teens in grades 10-12 who exhibit leadership in their youth groups will be presented by Stefanick and Mastroianni. (See story below.)

“Speakers like Chris and Megan don’t come into the diocese for youth that often,” said Craig Dyke, director of the Office of Evangelization and Family Life. “The majority of our parishes confirm in eighth grade and we wanted to give those kids the opportunity to hear these big-time speakers.”

Stefanick speaks to more than 50,000 teens, young adults and parents each year and was a keynote speaker at World Youth Day 2011 in Madrid. A nationally syndicated youth columnist and author of books including “Do I Have to Go?” (about the Mass) and “Raising Pure Teens,” he is regularly seen and heard on Catholic radio and television.

Dyke recalled Stefanick’s visits to Catholic high schools in the Diocese of Peoria in 2010.

“I’ve never seen someone able to connect with youth so quickly and capture them for the whole 75 minutes he spoke,” said Dyke of Stefanick, a 14-year youth ministry veteran who is founder and president of Real Life Catholic, an organization dedicated to bringing this generation of teens, college students, and parents to Christ.

Mastroianni also spoke at World Youth Day 2011. For three years she traveled throughout the United States and Europe with Generation Life, a movement of young people who educate on pro-life and chastity messages and develop new leaders for the pro-life movement. Now a campus minister at Mount de Sales Academy in Baltimore, Maryland, she continues to help audiences grow in “a deeper desire for intimacy with Jesus Christ.”

And bringing youth closer to Christ is the purpose of Youth Rally ’14, which will foster encounters with Jesus under the day’s theme of “Way, Truth and Life.”

The youth rally takes place from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and will also include music by Station 12, a band featuring students from the St. Joseph Catholic Newman Center at Bradley, and a Mass with Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, at St. Mary’s Cathedral. It closes with a celebration of praise music, food, and fun back at the pastoral center.

The afternoon schedule includes breakout sessions on the topic of chastity. Eighth-graders will have their own sessions at that time. In addition to Mass with the bishop at the cathedral, there will also be encounters with Jesus through adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and the opportunity for the sacrament of reconciliation.

“We are so bombarded with images on our computers, smartphones, and instant entertainment,” said Dyke. “But we need to learn about Jesus Christ from a live person. These people know how to evangelize,” he said of the day’s speakers.

Early registration is $40 per person before Nov. 3, or $45 after that date. Young people interested in being a part of Youth Rally ’14 should contact their parish youth minister or the Office of Evangelization and Family Life by phone at (309) 671-1550 or via email at cdyke@cdop.org.

Youth leaders from parishes around the diocese will serve as chaperones.



Are you a teen who has shown leadership in your parish youth group? Do you think you have leadership potential? Do you want to follow Jesus in a deeper, more personal way?

If you answered “yes” to those questions, and are in grades 10-12, then a pre-Youth Rally gathering called “Teen Missionary Disciples” may be for you.

The overnight formation program at the Spalding Pastoral Center in Peoria on Nov. 21-22 will be led by Youth Rally presenters Chris Stefanick and Megan Mastroianni. The program includes a series of talks inspired by Pope Francis’ call for “a church full of missionary disciples.”

Check-in begins at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 21. A registration cost of $30 covers dinner, Saturday breakfast, and overnight accommodations.

Participants must be recommended by their parish priest, youth minister, principal, a teacher or a catechist. To apply, contact your youth minister or the Office of Evangelization and Family Life, (309) 671-1550 by Monday, Oct. 27.

Those taking part will have special roles in the following day’s Youth Rally. The cost for attending the youth rally is additional. (See story above.)

SPALDING PASTORAL CENTER | 419 NE MADISON AVENUE | PEORIA, IL 61603 | PHONE (309) 671-1550 | FAX (309) 671-1595
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