BISHOP ROBERT P. DEELEY celebrates Mass during the Catholic Youth Convention, April 27.

BISHOP ROBERT P. DEELEY celebrates Mass during the Catholic Youth Convention, April 27.

ROCKPORT — With a theme of “Lights, Camera, Action!” featuring a red carpet event that included a banquet dinner and dancing, the 2014 Catholic Youth Convention had a Hollywood feel as roughly 250 Catholic teenagers from around Maine gathered at Samoset Resort on April 25-27.

By a twist of fate, the celebrities in the spotlight at the convention weren’t actors, but the church’s newest saints, as the event coincided with the canonizations of Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II on Sunday, April 27.

“It was just an awesome experience. We got to dive in and learn so much about them,” said Emily Belanger, a member of the youth leadership team that helped plan the convention.

The weekend event included workshops focused on learning about God in a fun, faith-filled and comfortable environment, and a keynote address delivered by Joel Stepanek of Life Teen, a national youth organization. Stepanek used the example of the pope saints to encourage the teens to get to know them and to talk to God as they strive to be saints.

“The thing that really stood out for me was what they did for the community and for people, the effect they had on us to help us, ourselves, become saints,” said Mikayla Wick, from Our Lady of the Snows Parish in Dexter.

On Sunday, Bishop Robert P. Deeley celebrated Mass at the convention, offering many in attendance a chance to meet him for the first time since his installation as Bishop of the Diocese of Portland in February. Bishop Deeley told the youth that Jesus “calls us to live as he did, in service to one another” and pointed to the examples of Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II.

The bishop called upon the youth to be evangelizers as they go back to their parishes and urged them to “remember the grace you received here; remember the blessing that you celebrated here; remember the truth which you have opened for yourselves here.”

In addition to the Mass, prayer and workshops, Saturday night’s red carpet banquet and dancing enabled the teens from different towns and cities in Maine to get to know one another, and perhaps, form lifelong friendships.

“This is a fun way to socialize and get a good dose of religion,” said Andrew McCarthy of Our Lady of the Snows.

A number of awards were presented at the convention. Seven teens received Saint Timothy Awards for living as disciples of Christ and setting examples for others to follow. Companions on the Journey Awards recognized excellence, commitment and leadership by adults serving in youth ministry.


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