BY WKC STAFF
On Saturday, Oct. 26, around 80 middle school youth and adults from the Diocese of Owensboro joined 1,600 middle school youth and adults from surrounding dioceses for Holy Fire Nashville 2019. The one-day event is hosted by the National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry and the Diocese of Nashville. According to the NFCYM, the hope of this event is that “young people are invited and challenged to embrace their baptismal call and embrace the relevant and powerful gospel of Jesus.”
According to “Going, Going, Gone: The Dynamics of Disaffiliation in Young Catholics,” a study recently published by St. Mary’s Press in collaboration with the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate, “When asked at what age they no longer identified themselves as Catholic, 74 percent of the sample said between the ages of 10 and 20, with the median age being 13 years old.”
The need to invite this middle school age group to a life-changing encounter with Jesus Christ and a recommitment to faith is the motivation behind the NFCYM’s efforts with Holy Fire, which has sites in Chicago, Ohio, Texas, and Nashville. Their hope is to serve every region in the United States with events like this for middle school youth.
Aynde Bennet, youth minister at Sts. Joseph and Paul Parish in Owensboro, said, “These 6th graders really got a lot out of Holy Fire. They were really open to the experience and enjoyed worship and adoration in a way that they haven’t before. They loved both speakers, especially Chris Padgett because he made them laugh so much. The best part of this, for me, was afterward when we were having dinner and we talked about what they saw, heard, and felt.”
Paula Schmidt, coordinator of religious education at St. Pius X Parish in Calvert City, said, “The five boys I was with really enjoyed it. They got the message of being yourself.”
“The goal of the event is intentional encounter with Jesus Christ both in witness of faith and prayer in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament,” said Charlie Hardesty, diocesan director of youth and young adult ministry. “The climax of the experience is an invitation to proclaim and renew one’s baptismal promise, sit in Adoration and prayer, and be nourished at the Mass.”
Hardesty added, “We can no longer afford to assume that young people who are raised in the Catholic Church will automatically stay connected as youth and young adults. We must be intentional with an invitation to follow Jesus Christ.”
The Diocese of Owensboro had groups from St. Jerome Parish in Fancy Farm; Owensboro Catholic Middle School; St. Pius X Parish in Owensboro; St. Stephen Cathedral in Owensboro; Sts. Joseph and Paul Parish Owensboro; St. Mary Magdalene Parish in Sorgho; St. Pius X Parish in Calvert City, and Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Owensboro. It is expected that Holy Fire Nashville will be an event available every year for middle school youth.
Originally printed in the December 2019 issue of The Western Kentucky Catholic.
Copyright © 2019 Diocese of Owensboro/The Western Kentucky Catholic