More Faith, More Love: An RYC 2017 Reflection
One place. One purpose. One God. On June 10, 2017, children of God gathered at Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania for the annual Northeast-A Regional Youth Conference. The theme centered around Jesus being our cornerstone and holding us up throughout all the obstacles we face. For me, it was definitely an experience that revived my faith from all of its spiritual dryness.
Going into RYC, my nervousness had sprouted tremendously. It was the first time I would be serving for a conference, and even though I was only a writer, I knew it would still take hard work and effort. Adding on to this, I would also be doing slam poetry for the first time.
Arriving at a house the night before, I could see everyone stressed out, but it was all for God’s work. The next morning, we all woke up running on a few hours of sleep, yet ready for the day ahead. When I got to RYC, it was time for service team worship.
Going into the worship, I did not know what to expect. Midway through a song, I opened my eyes, and I saw hands raised, felt serendipity amidst all the nerves, and heard beautiful voices singing praise for the Lord. In this one moment, I knew that with everything happening, the youth gathered at conference today would come out with a faith stronger than we ever imagined, and with God’s Help, that is exactly what happened. Starting off morning worship with “Free to Dance,” everyone was excited for the day ahead. R.A. Calleja, worship leader, really encouraged the youth by saying “God’s call has no age requirement.” With this, a video that was shown a bit after really brought out the message that youth are powerful. The morning worship was only the first step of strengthening our faith.
Jard Staromana started off Session 1 talking about God’s Blueprint for us, which is reminiscent of the talk given during each youth camp we joined in. Jard goes on to state a quote by Pope Benedict saying, “You were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness.” Along with this, Jard brings up some great points of love, talking about how each of us was made in the image and likeness of love. During all these talks, it was so great to see people paying attention and wanting to learn more about what God has in store for them.
Taking a break from the sessions, it was finally time for the sports competitions. Going into this, my anxiety increased since I am not much of a sports person, and I didn’t know how hard it would be to write about. However, it wasn’t as difficult as I thought. Sadly, when New Jersey went against Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania took the lead right away and eventually won; the same goes for New York during their game against Connecticut. During the final game, Pennsylvania took the win. Even though we did not take the victory for basketball, New Jersey won volleyball with strong serves, spikes, and set-ups.
Moving on to the creative competitions, my slam poetry turned out pretty well! Even though I did not win, I was so happy to be an instrument of God and spread His message. The banners were absolutely incredible, depicting the theme in a variety of ways, and the original songs were also lovely to hear. Watching the creatives was entertaining because it goes to show how much talent all the gifted brothers and sisters have and how they use it for God.
During the afternoon worship led by Matt Urquia, the presence of God was evident everywhere, and it did not stop there. This continued into session 2 led by Katie Algarme and through the duration of the talks from Ima Velasco and Seth Solidum. An inspiring quote from Seth is “I made more room for God’s Love to fill me up.” Seth’s talk definitely motivated others to also let God into their life and accept His Love.
My favorite part of conference was when the couple coordinators prayed over the youth and our struggles. During this time, even the service team members took a break and immersed themselves into reflection. Andrey Spears, a team member on YCOM, said, “My favorite part was documenting and seeing everyone be free as they went into worship. I could feel the Holy Spirit was in the auditorium.” The Holy Spirit was clearly in the auditorium, especially at the time of Praisefest led by Brian Cadag. Praisefest is ultimately when I witnessed the beauty of people truly praising God. The day was almost done, but there was still one event left: Mass. The Priest was an unforgettable one that combined a hilarious story with the message from the Gospel, and it was a wonderful way to wrap the day up.
I will always look back at RYC 2017 with feelings of happiness. I may not remember everything that happened during the event in the future, but I will hold onto the transformations in faith that I, and many other people, went through. After this conference, I can honestly say that I am working on building up my faith and will surely try my best to do everything in love. Praise God!