The second day of the 66th annual Diocesan Youth Convention saw the teenage participants still had the energy and enthusiasm they showed on opening night. The bulk of the learning took place on this day, with a variety of large and small speaker sessions on Saturday, March 3.
Keynote speaker Doug Tooke, director of marketing for Out of Da Box Films and an adjunct staff member with Life Teen International, asked the teens in one of three mega-sessions to think about what prevents them from speaking to others about their faith. The answers came back - embarrassment, not having friends who are religious, fear of non-acceptance, even doubt.
"Do we really think that the Lord has not already managed those insecurities? You need to reconcile with that," he said. "Do I really believe that the Lord can't handle me being embarrassed or being judged, because He was never judged? Wait, what? The only way we can come to a place of comfort in that is by deeply engaging Christ on a regular basis."
In an animated and often loud address, Tooke broke into a story that led to his birth. It involved rebellion, theft, international travel, a car accident and the sacrifice of his great aunt, who died during the Great Influenza Outbreak, to care for his infant grandfather. Sacrifice led to Tooke being here. Jesus' sacrificed led to the rest of them being there. Tooke asked his audience to sacrifice one minute a day to say, "Lord, this is yours."
"If you already give one, give five. If you give five, give 10. If you give 10, try daily Mass. If you already go to daily Mass, try levitating because you are super holy.
It's not complicated, it's just really hard," he said. "Sacrifice is part of sainthood. It's the only way you will conquer fear, doubt and embarrassment."
Afternoon breakout session dealt with respecting life, college plans, prayer and sexuality.
Dennis Mahaney, director of Evangelization and Parish Life for the Diocese of Buffalo, asked the 100 teens in his breakout some "Tough Questions" dealing with morality. Rather than talk to the audience, Mahaney wanted to have a conversation with the teens on the messiness of life.
"My philosophy is everyone in the room is smarter than anyone in the room, so you might have an idea that I don't. You might have a suggestion that has never occurred to me. So, we're going to help each other with this," he said.
Mahaney, who has done prison ministry, opened the question of "Is there a truth, and undeniable right and wrong." Using PowerPoint, he charted right and wrong based on whether an act is good and/or legal. He examined the serious business of sex, drugs and violence. The end result was good or bad depends on a lot of factors.
"Think about your tough questions. It could be that the confusion is around, 'Is it essentially a good thing to do or bad thing to do, is it legal or illegal, because sometimes we confuse that with, is it the right thing to do," he said.
He instructed the audience to judge an act as good or bad, the circumstances of the situation, what is the intention, is it to help, is it to hurt, is it to be selfish, is it to care for somebody else, and the consequences. Lastly, he gave two rules for success. Rule number 1, exercise the human endowments of imagination, self awareness, independent will and conscience. Rule number 2, is to learn rule number 1
The teens also had several opportunities to reflect on the presentations and other questions of faith in small groups.
"I like the small groups where you can narrow it down and actually talk to people in your group, and listen to what they have to say," said Brianne Janiszeski, 16, SS. Peter & Paul Parish in Hamburg.