Teenagers and adults from over 10 parishes gathered at Our Lady of Czestochowa Parish in Cheektowaga on Friday, Nov. 9, to reflect on The Call: Sainthood is Now. The evening began with praise and worship led by The Anointed music group. The opening prayer focused on First Samuel where the young boy finally realizes it is God who is calling him. He responds, "Speak for your servant is listening." A sung litany of saints concluded the prayer.
Anna Brach, a high school senior, shared some of her faith journey. She told the group, "As you know our theme for tonight is sainthood is now. I must admit this is quite a tall order for teenagers to tackle. So how does one live like a saint? It doesn't mean working miracles or living in poverty, but it means being a role model to the generation that follows."
Two rounds of breakouts and prayer experiences focused on things that would help young people be role models. Topics included the Nicene Creed, dealing with temptations and using technology to deepen one's faith. Praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet, Meeting Jesus in Guided Meditation and Praying with Music were the prayer experiences.
After the breakouts another high school senior, Blaise Doyle, gave a reflection on holiness. He said, "A holy person is one who puts others before themselves. A holy person is courageous who stands up for what is right, even if it is not easy. Holy people are happy. They realize God is their friend, and they make the most out of every situation. They are humble, honest and sincere." Both Doyle and Brach are youth leaders at Immaculate Conception Parish in East Aurora.
The evening concluded with Mass presided by Father Bryan Zielenieski, pastor of Our Lady of Charity Parish in Buffalo, who wrapped up the evening with a challenging homily. He opened by asking the teens, "When did you get it?" After a few inquiries, they realized the "it" was their call. He noted that our call comes from our baptism, is nourished at the altar and sets each of us out on mission. His final challenge was to think of one way to respond to our call between now and Christmas. By doing this, we take one more step to being saints in our world today.
At this difficult time in our diocese, this evening was created to gather young people to pray, and to empower them to be saintly people. Social activist Dorothy Day said, "No matter how corrupt the Church may become, it always carries within itself the seeds of its own regeneration." During Mass everyone gathered prayed for the Church and especially the Diocese of Buffalo. "Lord I Need You" was the Communion meditation song, and Father Zielenieski asked everyone to truly pray it for our Church right now. The spirit of prayer was so tangible that at the end of the song he said, "I don't want this moment to end!"
The evening was possible by the generosity of Father Marcin Porada, pastor of Our Lady of Czestochowa, and youth/music ministry leaders Stephanie Bialkowski, David Chriswell, Carolyn Grassmick, Katie Maraszek, Mary Palmer, Deacon Paul Walter, Denise York and Lydia Zielinski.