Diocese holds first middle school rally
By RENEE WEBB, Globe editor
October 12, 2006
The Diocese of Sioux City held its first middle school rally, named Exodus,
According to the director of youth and young adult ministry for the diocese,
Jessica LaFleur, more than 380 middle school students from 28 parishes, clusters
and Catholic schools attended the rally that was held at the Nativity Center of
Mater Dei School in Sioux City.
"I feel really good about how the rally went. It was a great success. I
have already been hearing wonderful comments from both kids and adults. For a
first rally, it could not have gone better," she said. "The keynote
had a perfect balance of humor and solid message about commitment to faith, and
the bands really got the kids moving in a way that glorifies God. It was
Following the opening prayer, Bob Perron gave the keynote presentation. He
focused his message on the importance of being a Stooge 4 Christ. Known as a
Catholic edu-tainer, Perron used personal stories and humor to inspire the young
Resembling Curly, one of the Three Stooges, Perron had them do the Curly
Shuffle as a way to meet other students at the rally. They shuffled, introduced
themselves to someone they didn't know and they spoke briefly on a designated
topic. He had them shuffle several times throughout the keynote presentation.
"Today, as we talk about Exodus, as we talk about moving to a different
place in our faith, God calls us to continually grow and change and we will do
that today," he said.
The speaker, who is the director of youth ministry for the Diocese of Des
Moines, said there were three ways - the three Cs - to be a Stooge 4 Christ.
With each of the Cs, Perron had a balloon hat that represented the symbol.
The first C is commitment. Its symbol was a cross.
"Living out our Catholic, Christian faith requires us to enter into a
relationship with Jesus," he said. "It requires us to change some of
our behaviors, some of the ways we live our life."
The second C is community. Its symbol was branches.
Perron spoke about the importance of being part of a faith community.
The third C is for courage. Its symbol was a fish, standing for Jesus.
"We need to be able to see Jesus and live out our faith 24/7 - not just
on Sundays," he said.
In his presentation, he told stories about his family - his four children and
the strained relationship he had with his father. After his dad became ill, the
relationship was repaired and had time to become strong before his father's
death. Perron urged the students to communicate with their parents.
After the keynote, Heath McNease, an up and coming hip-hop artist
entertained. He used crowd involvement to build enthusiasm.
The hip-hop artist was followed by the Christian pop rock band SevenGlory.
Both of the musical acts had the young students clapping along and jumping up
and down as they spread the messages about Christ.
Following the musical acts, the students broke into small groups to discuss
such things as a person who had an impact on their faith.
The liturgy followed the group activity. It was celebrated by Father Matthew
Hewitt of Sioux City. Led by students carrying flags, all of the students
processed to their places for Mass.
During his homily, Father Hewitt spoke about the Israelites wandering in the
desert for 40 years.
"God just saved them from slavery and now he wanted to teach them how to
be his people. God wanted to be their God and them to be his people - united in
love," he said.
Even though life was difficult and times and there were many injustices in
the world, Father Hewitt told them that God would always remain faithful to the
people and walk with them in their journey.
"We can do amazing things with our lives. We can do amazing things when
we know God is there through the difficult times - when it's hard to do the
right things, when it's hard to speak the truth, when we are journeying. Just
like God provided for the Israelites in the desert, God also provides for
us," he said.
Father Hewitt told the students that if they look to God, God will provide
and do amazing things for them.
"As you journey towards Christ, know that God is with you walking. He
wants to be your protection and cover your back," he said.
Students participated in the liturgy as music leaders, readers, gift bearers
and more. Several students wove the altar cloth using colorful fabrics prior to
the presentation of the gifts.
McKenzie Theisen, a student from Gehlen Catholic in LeMars, said she liked
Another Gehlen student, Catherine Pratt, said, "I really enjoyed it. I
think they are bringing God into everything we are doing."
She added that the rally offered much more than what she thought it would.
Brandon Bainbridge, a parishioner from Kingsley, said he really liked
Another student, Mitchell Hooyer from Christ the King in Sioux Center, said,
"The rally was pretty fun. I thought they were going to just do a bunch of
prayers and boring stuff but it was fun.
He liked the keynote, Bob Perron, best of all.
Mary Sam Hacker, youth minister for Immaculate Conception and Nativity
parishes in Sioux City, and students led the closing prayer service. She
extended gratitude to LaFleur for organizing the diocese's first ever middle