From bounce houses to Adoration: diocesan Middle School Rally of 2023
THE COLONY — What do bounce houses and Eucharistic Adoration have in common? The Diocese of Fort Worth Middle School Rally on Feb. 25 featured both! At Holy Cross Parish in The Colony, middle schoolers from around the diocese gathered to have fun, pray, listen to talks, and adore Jesus Christ present in the Eucharist.
Two sixth-grade girls from Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish in Decatur explained their reasons for coming to the Middle School Rally: “To feel more connected with the Church,” said 11-year-old Jasmin Sauz.
Aaliyah Huerta, 12, from the same parish, said she came “to see if I can find my purpose, to see what God has planned for me.” When asked what God might have planned for her, Huerta replied, “To see if I can spread the Word to people.”
After a morning of recreation, the kids gathered in a beige-and-white auditorium filled with plastic folding chairs to listen to Mathew Hawkins from Adore Ministries give the keynote talk. Hawkins discussed Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, algebra, and the meaning of our call as baptized Christians.
After the keynote, the boys milled into the sanctuary of Holy Cross Parish to spend time with Jose Salazar, the Director of Youth Catechesis and Young Adults at St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Grapevine.
During his talk, Salazar asked them what it means to be a man. “Work every day,” shouted out one boy. “Showing leadership,” asserted another. Other answers given were “honesty” and “humility.”
Salazar latched onto that last answer and talked about the very model of humility. He pressed his copy of The Consecration to St. Joseph to his forehead. “St. Joseph is that image of who men should be,” Salazar told the boys. “St. Joseph is the terror of demons.” He emphasized that Joseph put Mary and Jesus first — he lived with humility.
Meanwhile, back in the auditorium, Meg Ruhter, Coordinator of Children’s Formation at Holy Family Parish in Fort Worth, asked several of the girls to come onto the stage. Ruhter gave one volunteer a flashlight representing Jesus (the sun), and another a large circular mirror representing Mary (the moon) to reflect Jesus’s light. Another girl received a blue yoga ball to represent the earth.
Ruhter arranged the volunteers so that Jesus’s light shone and reflected brightly off Mary’s mirror onto the blue yoga-ball earth. “She reflects God into the world,” explained Ruhter. She encouraged the girls to be like Mary, to let Jesus’s light reflect off them — and not to let the world eclipse the light of Jesus.
As the guys and girls reunited, parishioners of St. Ann Parish in Burleson excitedly chatted about their experiences. Angela Ombati, a 14-year-old eighth grader, said, “I like that they focus a lot on how kids think. They speak in a way that if a young child was here, they could understand.”
Angela’s 12-year-old sister Jessica Ombati agreed. “They also let us have fun, eat snacks, and they teach us,” said Jessica, who is in sixth grade.
“I like that they use visuals,” added Angela.
Sixth-grader Emma Hrebik, age 11, also appreciated the visuals. “Using metaphors was a good idea,” Hrebik said.
Twelve-year-old Clare Chandler, who is in sixth grade, listened as her friends talked. When asked what her favorite event of the day was so far, she grinned. “The inflatables!”
The mountaintop moment of the day was Adoration. Several of the middle schoolers had been to Adoration events before. For Sauz from Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish, one of the main messages of the day was that “God always cares for us. We’re not nothing.” To experience His care for them, the middle schoolers at the rally worshiped Jesus in Adoration together.
An event like this takes a while to plan. “We say six months, and that’s just coordinating the logistics,” said Victoria Ramon, Director of Youth, Young Adult, and Campus Ministry for the diocese. “Really, the planning for this event goes beyond six months; it goes back even further, because there is a lot of prayer.”
All that prayer gave the Middle School Rally its theme this year: “I am the Light of the World.”