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The weekend of September 30, St. Michael's in the Hills, Toledo hosted the Diocesan Youth Event. I was two weeks into my role as Director of Children, Youth, and Family Ministries at St. Michael's and I had planned to "pop in" to the DYE to say hello and meet some of the youth of the diocese. It didn't work out that way. The Rev. Vincent Black and Rita Rozell convinced me to participate fully in the weekend's events. I thought to myself, I think I am being gently hazed by the Holy Spirit! It had been years since I attended a youth lock-in yet, I found myself looking around for my air mattress and blankets.
The theme of the event was, "Be Alert, Be Awake, Be Aware." All of the activities centered around this topic. For example, the magic show and magic lesson on Friday evening enabled us to become amateur magicians while helping the youth to realize that there is very often more going on than meets the eye.
On Saturday morning, youth were asked to use legos to build something to represent one thing they love about their lives. Shortly after, we took a bus trip to Bellwether Farm for the groundbreaking ceremony. While at the farm, we participated in a nature walk and engaged in prayerful reflections. Some of the remarks I overheard during the walk were, "nature is a good place to envision God," and "I feel closer to my friends and God."
The evening was very busy. Immediately upon our return, the youth heard a presentation about human trafficking. After dinner, while in small groups, youth combined their lego creations into joint structures as a way to see their interconnectedness. Later, groups were led into a room where pictures of seemingly happy youth were hung on the walls. However, when the lights went out - with the help of a blacklight - it became clear that their outward appearances clearly did not reflect reality. The evening ended with multiple prayer stations that included a fun house mirror, M&M’s, clay, and writing prayers that were then placed on the cross.
Bishop Mark Hollingsworth preached on Sunday and I was confirmed into the Episcopal Church; that was the icing on the cake of a wonderful Diocesan Youth Event. I am grateful for this experience as I met so many wonderful young people from the diocese as well as colleagues in Christian Formation.
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