FROM FAIRFIELD COUNTY CATHOLIC
Teens Encouraged To ‘Find Your Fire’ At Trumbull Youth Event
June 4, 2021
TRUMBULL—“The words you speak and the lifestyle you lead will show the world that Jesus means something to you. So, I ask you, my young friends to unlock the fire of the Holy Spirit, for that fire will come to bless, empower and transform you all.”
With these words of spiritual encouragement, Bishop Frank J. Caggiano addressed over 75 teens at the Mass which opened “Find Your Fire: Trumbull Catholic Youth Day” at St. Theresa Church on Sunday, May 23. This event, appropriately held on the Feast of Pentecost, was the culminating project of the year for St. Theresa Apostolic Youth (STAY), a recipient of the 2021 Youth in Action grant from Foundations in Faith.
“We remember today the gift of fire,” the bishop continued. “The Holy Spirit came to enlighten the minds of the apostles. We come here because you and I have fire that needs to be unlocked.”
When members of STAY originally drafted the proposal back in November, their goal for a Catholic Youth Day included helping teens in the area “find their fire” for Christ, grow in their faith, and unite as a community, especially after months apart due to COVID-19 restrictions. With funds awarded from the grant and with leadership from their priest and mentor Father Flavian Bejan, it appears this project did just that, drawing dozens of young people from the parishes in Trumbull as well as those in Stratford, Bridgeport, Shelton, Bethel, and Danbury.
Following the 4 pm Mass celebrated by Bishop Caggiano, the teens gathered in the fields and lots behind St. Theresa School to enjoy games of spike ball, volleyball, gaga ball, and corn hole under a bright late afternoon sun as music streamed from iPhones and speakers. The food truck Fryborg offered burgers, hot dogs, fries and sandwiches at no cost to the attendees, as all goods were covered by funds from the grant.
While waiting in line for a burger, Jackie Lenard, a senior at St. Joseph High School, reflected on the joy she felt at coming together. “It’s been over a year,” she said, regarding the months of relative isolation. “It’s so good to be able to do this again because I really missed these kinds of activities. I always had a fire in my heart when I came to events like this. Now, my heart is on fire again.”
Sam Aca, a teen from St. Peter’s Church in Bridgeport, echoed Lenard’s thoughts on reemerging from the pandemic, saying, “Being here is like opening up the church again. The youth have all been at home and away from Mass. I love being part of something like this—and it’s a lot of fun too!”
That fun continued throughout the afternoon and into the evening when everyone gathered again around 7:00 inside the church to hear guest speaker Justin Fatica, the co-founder of Hard as Nails Ministries, a national Catholic organization based in Syracuse, N.Y. With remarkable charisma, Fatica encouraged the teens to “be the compassionate people God called you to be.”
“Jesus has brought you here tonight, and He wants to make a breakthrough in your life,” he said, moving up and down the aisle and speaking directly to the attendees. “Pray that you can accept the call you have from Him, and you will never be the same.” Fatica’s personal stories and devotion to his Catholic faith resonated with the teens as they responded to his refrain of “God is unbelievable, and God can make a breakthrough” with great enthusiasm.
Following the talk, a half hour of adoration commenced with Father Flavian exposing the Blessed Sacrament in a monstrance. He led the teens in reciting the Glorious Mysteries of the rosary, a prayerful and reflective conclusion to what STAY member Kate Barton of Trumbull said was an “absolutely amazing” experience.
“It’s been wonderful to see all the youth here for one reason—God, and it all came together so well,” she said, commenting on the months of preparation the STAY group invested in planning the event. “We found our fire and want to share that with others.”
Acknowledging his appreciation for the Youth in Action grant awarded by Foundations in Faith, Father Flavian said he hopes this type of event will become an annual one, bringing youth together on a diocesan level. “These teens are our apostles and missionaries,” he added. “The Holy Spirit is really at work here. We trust that flame burning inside of us and will use it to expand our faith to others.”