Considering the fact that they spent a really long time on buses to get here, the 1,725 high schoolers were full of energy tonight! The doors opened, and they came running in to get seats as close as possible to the stage!
Then, we heard from our host Bob Perron who shared the beautiful story of the adoption of his son Isaiah. He encouraged anyone in the room who is adopted to stand, and over two dozen teens did; they were blessed with enthusiastic applause from the rest of crowd. Bob then reminded us that, according the Scriptures, we are all adopted sons and daughters of God! Bob works with a crisis pregnancy center in Orlando, Florida which has helped countless young women say no to abortion and yes to life. Through his example and his ministry, the Lord reminded us all how valuable we are to Him.
Sister Josephine Garrett, a Sister of the Holy Family of Nazareth and a clinical mental health counselor was our keynote speaker tonight; she began by saying, “There ain’t no party like a St. Louis party!” and we couldn’t agree more; we are all pretty amazing!
Sister Josephine spent her time with us tonight breaking open our theme: Life Empowers. She emphasized that the word “empower” means that we were given an ability to act; it is no accident that we were brought here to our nation’s capital to talk about power – this is a place, she reminded us, that defines power totally differently than we, as believers, should.
Sister shared her story with us. When she was younger, she wanted to be powerful, and thought that popularity would empower her. Her baptismal name was Toni, and her nickname became “Turn up Toni”! As she got older, she rose to power in the business world where she became a bank VP. However, in the midst of this worldly power, she was was addicted to eating and smoking. She was dying. And yet, in the midst of all of this, the Lord called her to be Catholic – and called her to the Eucharistic table.
While the world tells us that if we have more of its power than we will be fulfilled, Sister Josephine has discovered that what the world calls power is actually fear, and she discovered this through the sacraments.
There is a passage from the Bible that she believes the Lord gave her to share with all of us, a passage that shows us God’s definition of power:
For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that he may grant you in accord with the riches of his glory to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inner self, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the holy ones what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to accomplish far more than all we ask or imagine, by the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
— Ephesians 3:14-21:
As Sister Josephine concluded her powerful message tonight, she said, “If you forget anything I’ve said tonight, don’t ever forget this: There is no such thing as an unplanned human being. Every single one of you is a plan held in the mind and heart of God.”
If everyone is pleased with you, you probably have an integrity issue.
I am so grateful that we are Eucharistic people!
The love of God is so reckless that He invites us to take Him into ourselves.
I used to want Jesus to fix it all right now; now I ask Him to take His time so that I can grow in my relationship with Him.
I want to challenge you to come before Jesus in the Eucharist and ask the Lord to empower you.