By Abby Southworth
Archbishop Chapelle High School
On Sunday, Nov. 4, more than 1,500 young people from around the Archdiocese of New Orleans were called to be fearless in their faith at the 33rd annual World Youth Day held at the New Orleans Convention Center.
The 2018 theme was “Fearless,” based off of the International World Youth Day theme, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God” (Luke 1:30).
Members of Teen CROSS (composed of high school-aged representatives from parishes and schools around the archdiocese) acted as emcees and led cheers, sang songs and performed skits to get all youth participants excited for the faith-filled day ahead.
House bands in both the junior high and high school rooms added to the fun atmosphere as they played lively music throughout the day.
Following the opening ceremonies, the junior-high track moved into three different workshops relating to day’s theme. The junior high kids also heard talks, personal stories and participated in activities given by members of Teen CROSS.
As the junior high youth were having fun in small groups, all high schoolers were listening to the keynote speaker Paul George.
While George kept his talk light-hearted, there was a serious theme underlying his sometimes joking attitude.
He spoke to the high school youth about not being afraid of anything life may throw at them.
“I learned that I can’t be afraid to take risks because God has me in the palm of his hand,” said André Farnet, a Holy Cross senior.
At lunch, the atmosphere of the day was not dulled one bit. Members of Teen CROSS dressed as saints, including St. Cecilia and St. Michael the Archangel and took pictures with people in attendance. Also, a band kept everyone lively while they took a break from the various talks and activities to enjoy spending time with friends and reflect on the fun day.
In the afternoon, the junior high track got to hear their keynote from George. Then, their energy was kept up by playing many different and active games with each other. The high schoolers moved to their workshop sessions, where they could pick two workshops to attend from a wide variety of topics including Mary; the value of life; trusting in God; the saints; discernment; and the dangers of pornography. They also had the opportunity to praise the Lord in eucharistic adoration.
To conclude the day, both the junior high and high school tracks came together for Mass celebrated by Archbishop Gregory Aymond.
In his homily, the archbishop spoke to the young church about growing in their relationship with God. He made sure they knew that even as the young church, they can still make a difference, telling them, “You have a lot of power.”
It was evident at day’s end that the young church had learned many new things about the faith, themselves, and how to live out their own faith.
They were ready and equipped to spread God’s love to others, one might even say fearlessly.
Abby Southworth is a junior at Archbishop Chapelle High School in Metairie.