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Steubenville conferences inspire youth

By KATIE BORKOWSKI
katieb@catholicglobe.org

A few more groups from the Diocese of Sioux City took time out of their summer to attend Steubenville conferences in Springfield, Mo. and St. Paul, Minn.

Jake Rosenmeyer, pastoral director and middle/high school theology teacher at Bishop Garrigan, led a group to Steubenville Mid-America 2, July 20-22 in Springfield. The group included six students from Bishop Garrigan and eight from the faith formation group in the Five Saints Catholic Community and three other chaperones.

“I am really glad we took kids,” Rosenmeyer said. “Steubenville gives them an opportunity to worship with a bunch of students their age who are excited about faith.”

First-time Steubenville conference goer, Caitlin Thilges, a recent graduate of Bishop Garrigan in Algona, had wanted to attend before, but it conflicted with her softball schedule.

“The most memorable part of Steubenville for me was adoration – to truly feel Christ’s presence in that way was so amazing,” said Thilges, a parishioner at St. Cecelia in Algona. “During adoration, the whole room shifted, and you could tell that everyone around you felt him, too.”

Adoration accolades

Layah DeLange, a senior at Bishop Garrigan and parishioner at St. Cecelia’s, attended the conference for the fourth time.

“I wanted to attend this year because I love the atmosphere at the Steubenville conferences,” she said. “The most memorable part of the conference was Saturday night adoration.”

Dan McCarty, a parishioner at St. Mary’s in Alton, and Alissa Schipper, director of campus ministry at Le Mars Gehlen Catholic School, led a group of 44 students and five other chaperones from Gehlen and the surrounding area to Steubenville Mid-America 2.

“This is one of the best faith-based experiences they’ll have in their life,” said McCarty. “It’s the only place I’ve ever been where being passionately and openly in love with Jesus is expected and not considered awkward or unusual.”

Second-time conference goer, Tiffany Woerdehoff, a sophomore at Gehlen and parishioner at All Saints Parish, wanted to attend again because last year was “amazing.” Like the other attendees, Saturday night adoration was memorable for her.

“Everyone goes into it thinking it’s just going to be another boring adoration, but everyone also comes out changed because they realize that God has so much love for them,” she said.

Molly Roder, a sophomore at Gehlen and a parishioner at Remsen St. Mary, attended Steubenville for the first time this year along with her father, Deacon Rick Roder.

“The most memorable part of my trip would have to be Saturday adoration because it wasn’t like ordinary adoration at all,” said Roder. “It was special because they shut off all the lights in the arena and put a spotlight on the monstrance while the priest slowly processed through the rows of people.”

Father Patrick Behm, chaplain at St. Edmond School in Fort Dodge, accompanied a group of 37 students and eight chaperones from St. Edmond and Holy Trinity Parish to Steubenville Mid-America 2.

“It inspires within them the opportunity to grow as men and women of faith and to encounter the person of Jesus Christ in a deeper, richer way,” said the priest. “I hope they bring back an experience of knowing that God is real, he loves them, and he has a plan for their life.”

Rylie Steinkamp, a sophomore at St. Edmond, attended the conference for the first time this year because “I wanted to build a stronger relationship with God.” She said seeing the priest and the monstrance process around the stadium allowed her to learn to “really adore Christ.”

Steubenville St. Paul

St. Mary’s in Spirit Lake sent a group of 27 students to Steubenville July 27-29 in St. Paul, Minn., led by Mary Brandt, DRE and youth director. The group also included four other chaperones, five students from Algona area and one from Jackson, Minn.

“Steubenville is a monumental spiritual experience for students,” said Brandt. “Most of them experience meaningful and life-changing conversion while there. As a large parish without a Catholic school, the Steubenville experience affords our kids a full-immersion experience of the faith like nothing they have had before.”

Not only did this group of students attend Steubenville, they extended their stayed to the Christ the King Retreat Center in Buffalo, Minn. They continued the small groups that were established at the conference and heard witness talks from the chaperones.

“This post-conference experience really solidifies the message of the conference and helps students establish close ties to one another that carry through the whole year,” said Brandt. “It is designed to remind the students that they are a family and should love and support one another both inside our church and out in the community.”

First-time conference goer Maci Higgins said the Steubenville trip meant so much to her.

“I can truly say that I now have a stronger relationship with God than I ever have before,” said the Spirit Lake St. Mary freshman. “I have always tried to be close with the Lord, but this trip made me realize that even if you go to Mass, even if you go to confession, if you don’t put effort into a relationship with God you will never become close to him.”

Zach Steffens, a sophomore from Spirit Lake St. Mary’s, attended Steubenville for the second time this year.

“Before this Steubenville I honestly had no prayer life,” said Steffens. “If you are reading this and you have younger kids or grandkids, please encourage them to go. They will be changed forever. I have been asking God to show himself in some way and he has.”

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