By John Michael D. Pineda
Umatuna Si Yu’os
Connor Flanagan is a 20-something father-to-be. He’s of Irish descent, and was raised in a very Catholic family. Laura Chance grew up in California. She’s Hispanic and described her teenage phase as a “Chola.” Ricky Vazquez, originally from South Florida, lives in Nashville, Tennessee, where he plays his guitar singing about life’s beauty.
These three individuals came from different parts of the U.S. and grew up their separate particular ways. They may have some similarities, but one that is very obvious is their passion for Jesus Christ. It’s a passion which they eagerly share with many people throughout the nation.
Youth of our island gathered on Palm Sunday, April 9 at Bishop Baumgartner Memorial Catholic School in Sinajana for the celebration of World Youth Day Guam 2017. Here, Connor, Laura, and Ricky shared the stage to rally the youth from their different parishes and groups, banding together to celebrate our Lord.
Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church, Agana Heights, hosted the celebration and made it possible led by pastor, Fr. Marvin Bearis, OFM Cap., with the support of tireless volunteers and kind sponsors.
In simple amazement of the situation, you have our WYD Guam 2017 event guests with colorful backgrounds who surrendered their lives to serve the youth for Jesus Christ, and on the other hand, you have our youth who are seeking Him, as God reaches for them.
The 500-plus people who were present that day filled the auditorium with fire ablaze from the Holy Spirit as Ricky led everyone in the opening praise and worship. Laura, the keynote speaker, as comical as she can be, got down to business to talk about the “lions” of life. Beginning with her story about her ministry mission in Africa where she went on a Safari trip and almost died from a lion attack, Laura reflected upon her scariest experience in life.
She then focused on the teens present in the audience and the “lions” in their lives. Laura mentioned many aspects in life which can be very scary, things of temptation and occasions of sin. She talked about the “lions” in which society expects things from people, like for men, it’s to do what all the guys are doing — to be tough; and for women, with the illusion that there’s one standard of beauty. She warned about the “lions” that can consume our lives. However, she gives resolve and comfort for by encouraging all those present that God is bigger than all our “lions,” as she quoted the theme from the Gospel of Luke, “the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name.”
The second speaker was Connor, who also performed for the teens. Being a singer/songwriter, Connor impressed upon those present about the talents and treasures that God gives to each person. He used himself as an example, to lead others to hone their talents and give glory back to God. The influence he had on the youth that day was refreshing, seeing that they were very hyped for Jesus during his hip-hop performances.
The WYD celebrations ended that afternoon with the Palm Sunday Mass. It had begun with the First Friday Mass, on April 7 for the XLT. Archbishop Michael Byrnes, celebrated the Mass with Fr. Michael Crisostomo of Toto, Fr. Richard Kidd of Ma’ina, and Fr. Marvin.
In his homily, Archbishop Byrnes shared to the teens the importance of vocations – by marriage and religious life — about sacrifices made for others to help them in their faith in and love of Christ. The archbishop exclaimed that to be successful in life, we must be like Christ on the cross, to live as he has in loving everyone and in sacrifice.