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Graced moments spent with young people

By Bishop Terry R. LaValley

Aug. 28, 2013

The classrooms are bright and inviting.  Teachers and professors are eager and prepared. Moms and dads are ready and anticipating great things for their sons and daughters.  It’s time for school!

Our school administrators, faculty and staff are charged with the privileged responsibility of providing the setting where our most precious treasures can grow in knowledge of the wonder of God’s creation and the gift of human life.

As the 2013-14 academic year begins, we want to assure all—students, parents and staff of our prayers.
The month of August has been an especially graced time for me as I have had the opportunity to spend much time with our youth. 

At the ninth and final Listening Session, at Camp Guggenheim, I had the opportunity to pray, enjoy a meal with, and then hear approximately 65 “senior” campers tell me about their vision for the Diocese of Ogdensburg. 
Their passion and love for the Church was palpable.  They offered practical suggestions and shared their frustrations and their hopes for the Church. 

I came away from that session affirmed in my strong belief that our youth today possess remarkable skills, keen insights, strong faith, and much eagerness to serve Christ and His Body, the Church.

On the Feast of the Assumption, I celebrated Eucharist at Blessed John XXIII Newman Center in Plattsburgh and then enjoyed dinner and conversation with some of the area priests and several young men who are discerning their vocations.  Some were headed back to high school for their final year, others returning to college or headed there for the first time.  This was another wonderful opportunity to learn of the strong faith of young adults and the seriousness with which these men are discerning the Lord’s will for them.

On August 17th and 18th high school students from Keeseville, Peru, Ausable Forks and Morrisonville performed a Year of Faith Summer Concert at St. Augustine’s Church in Peru and St. John the Baptist in Keeseville. Their parents, family members and all in attendance were so proud of their wonderful performance, as was their bishop!   Through song, these young women and men lifted our souls in praise of God.  Thank you, Joyful Choir, for such an inspirational evening!

Our diocesan Year of Faith Committee suggested that we have a special event where the faithful from throughout the North Country could express their faith through their God-given talents in the arts. On Sunday, August 18th, a nice crowd gathered at Hosmer Hall in Potsdam to see and hear expressions of faith that lifted their spirits. The Beauty of Belief was a delightful celebration of art and music.  Musicians and artists are, in a real sense, birth-givers.  The works they produce provide us with the medium that inspires you and me to enter beyond the ordinary and delve deeply into a transcendence that leads us to reflect upon the human person and the awesome wonder of God’s creation and our redemption. We were served an exquisite fare of faith expressions in the artwork displayed and music performed. Many of the artists and musicians were students and young adults.  They provided an occasion where we could truly experience the Beauty of Belief.

Let there be no doubt, the youth of our Diocese possess many gifts that they are eager to share with us, indeed, are already sharing!  As they head back to college or high school, their brains will be stretched and their souls tested.

Let us thank God for our youth and support them with our prayer, words of encouragement, and through the sharing of our own faith.

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