Young Catholics from all over the diocese will converge in Columbia on Sunday, Nov. 20, to worship and celebrate the Eternal King.
They are invited to take part in a Spirit-filled bilingual event from 1:30 to 5 p.m. in Our Lady of Lourdes Church, 903 Bernadette Drive near Stadium Boulevard and I-70.
It will be the Solemnity of Christ the King.
“We hope young people join us with their youth groups, families, friends or confirmation class,” stated Maureen Quinn, diocesan director of religious education and youth ministry.
Pope Francis called for a Global Celebration of Young People to be held throughout the world on the final Sunday of the Church year.
The theme for the local observance will be “Viva Cristo Rey,” which is Spanish for “Long live Christ the King.”
The event will include:
“It will be a chance for them to praise and glorify our King, Who gives us strength when we are weak,” said Mrs. Quinn.
Bishop McKnight will speak briefly to the young people, but the majority of his time with them will be spent in prayer.
The hour of Adoration will include music led by the Hispanic youth choir from Marshall and by Totus Tuus Missionaries.
“We will also have a variety of prayers and a time of silence in front of the Most Blessed Sacrament,” said Mrs. Quinn.
“Our hope is that all young people of our diocese will feel welcome, regardless of cultural background, and will seize this prime opportunity to encounter Christ,” she stated.
A hopeful encounter
Mr. Greenfield said he’s excited about taking part in the celebration here.
“If you want hope, healing, encouragement, love, answers — then you should come,” he said.
He pointed out that people of all ages in this culture are united in a deep hunger for lasting hope.
“People don’t want a momentary or superficial hope,” he noted. “They want to know that they are seen, wanted, and that it will be ‘ok’ — whatever ‘it’ is.”
That lasting hope must be rooted in something everlasting — in truth and in love.
“Jesus is the name of the Person we are looking for,” said Mr. Greenfield. “And we find Him in His sacraments, the community that He brings together, and in His Word.
“People should come to this event so that they can have an encounter with Hope, so that they can have an encounter with the God Who sees them, wants them and loves them,” Mr. Greenfield stated.
“That is what we will be gathering to experience,” he said.
Bishop McKnight said it will be an ideal time for young people to renew their citizenship in God’s Kingdom and commit to carrying-out His mission.
“You have the energy and you have a fresh pair of eyes to help our Church transform into what the Lord is calling us to be,” he said.
Hope and glory
Mrs. Quinn said the Cristo Rey celebration will be “a chance for young people to come together for fellowship, inspiration and prayer.”
Organizers, while discerning what the event’s focus should be, saw clearly that teens and young adults need to be inspired and equipped to live and evangelize in the current culture.
“Young people today are immersed in a world that many times can have anti-Christian messages,” Mrs. Quinn noted. “We want them to be inspired to live ‘in the world but not of the world.’”
She said people who attend the Nov. 20 event will learn about Blessed Miguel Pro and St. Jose Sanchez del Rio, who gave their lives while proclaiming “Viva Cristo Rey.”
It was the battle cry of Mexican martyrs who were rebelling against government-imposed secularism and anti-Catholicism in their country in the 1920s.
“Many lives were lost through martyrdom while calling out those words — ‘Long live Christ the King!’” Mrs. Quinn noted.
“Today in our world, young people in our churches have an opportunity to glorify God and bring new hope while proclaiming Jesus Christ as our King.”
“Instruments for Christ”
Deacon Enrique Castro, diocesan director of intercultural and marriage ministries, said the Cristo Rey celebration will provide welcome encouragement.
“I believe it will be a call to remember that before anything else, we are Christians — Catholics! — and that our faith should be driving us and guiding everything we do and say,” he stated.
Deacon Castro grew up in central Mexico, not far from where the Cristo Rey movement took root nearly a century ago.
Pope Pius XI established the Solemnity of Christ the King in 1925, in part as a response to growing secularism and hostility toward the Church.
The following year, the phrase “Viva Cristo Rey” became the motto for Mexico’s drive to restore religious freedom.
Catholic priests, religious and laypeople risked their lives in defiance of repressive government restrictions on how they could worship God and practice their faith.
“These people were dying for what they believed,” Deacon Castro noted. “They were fighting for freedom, for their right to express their faith freely.”
He noted that throughout history, courageous Catholics have led all of the great movements toward freedom and independence in Mexico.
Pope St. John Paul II in 2000 canonized 25 Cristo Rey martyrs from 1926-29 — priests, seminarians and laypeople, including several young people.
Their memory is urgently relevant today.
“The same growing hostility against the Church that prompted Pope Pius XI to declare the Solemnity of Christ the King nearly 100 years ago is still very present and visible in the world,” said Deacon Castro.
Young people must fearlessly stand up and stand out for their King, he stated.
“We’re probably not going to die as martyrs here, because we live in a country where we have religious freedom,” he stated.
But people do face ridicule, rejection and ostracism for professing and practicing their faith.
“Nonetheless, our citizenship in the Kingdom of Heaven moves us to be instruments for Christ and for the Church in this time in history,” said Deacon Castro.