[Editor’s Note: A longer version of this story is available in the April issue of Christ is our Hope magazine.]
Story by Sister Cecilia Joseph, OP, a member of the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia and principal of St. Jude Catholic School in Joliet
The Diocese of Joliet hosted its 2nd annual “Here I Am Lord” conference from Feb. 29-March 2. Over the course of three days, approximately 2,000 young people experienced the power of the Holy Spirit at work in the diocese. The goal of this conference was twofold: to inspire young people to a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ and to encourage them to consider God’s call in their life.
“This conference is one of the highlights of the year” said Father John Belmonte, S.J., diocesan superintendent of Catholic Schools. “Part of building strong a Catholic school culture is fostering a strong vocation culture. Bringing together so many young people with religious, seminarians and priests to learn about our Lord’s call and to pray celebrate together is a graced moment for our local diocesan church.”
The day was filled with praise and worship music led by Anthony Redfield from Delaware. He was joined by seminarian Kyle Langan on the jimbay, Father Tom Dunn on the cajon, and Tom Langan on the keyboard. One student said, “The upbeat praise and worship music made me excited for the day. It helped me understand that praising God is fun and that not all prayer is silent and serious. I enjoyed singing with my peers and connecting the lyrics with my everyday life. The slower music was my favorite part of the day because it brought me very close with God. I felt His presence. I combined my love for music with my love for God, and they came together in perfect harmony. I was relaxed and made sure I absorbed every word I sang and connected with it.”
In addition to the presence of the diocesan seminarians, 26 religious communities were present throughout the conference to visit with students in the vocation fair. One student said, “I met so many happy and joyful religious. I could really see Jesus in each one of them; their faces were radiant with joy and happiness. It helped me to see that living a holy life isn’t boring or dull, but that it is full of life and happiness.”