by Joe Bollig
ST. MARYS — Nobody runs around in the noontime sun in late July in Kansas unless they have a very good reason.
In St. Marys, they did.
Nearly 200 youths, youth leaders and volunteers gathered under a broiling sun for a Holy Spirit-charged Super Sonic Youth Rally, held July 28-29 on the grounds of the St. Marys Elementary School.
The rally-goers spent most of their time around the big stage, where they rocked out to the band “Sound of the Spirit,” composed of members from Mater Dei Parish in Topeka.
They also listened to Jesse Manibusam, a singer-songwriter- storyteller-evangelist from Fort Worth, Texas. “Listening” is not quite accurate, however, since the singing evangelist exhorted the kids to sing, jump around, clap, laugh — in short, to express joy in having the Catholic faith.
Respite from the sun was provided by a big tent, under which participants could make rosaries, necklaces with religious medals, candles, and custom-designed flying disks.
They also had the opportunity to write messages of support to American military personnel serving overseas.
Dinner was served by the Knights of Columbus.
The theme of the event could be found on the T-shirts of the event staff: 2X2, the name of Manibusam’s ministry.
But there was another theme that was constantly preached by the event staff: Drink more water.
Despite the availability of two livestock tubs filled with iced, bottled water and the constant preaching, the youths sometimes had to stop and marinate under a cool, wet towel.
Temperatures dropped as the shadows lengthened, and the atmosphere became reverent for the evening Mass. Father John Riley, pastor of Immaculate Conception Parish in St. Marys, was the main celebrant; Father Mitchel Zimmerman, the new archdiocesan vocations director, was the homilist. True to his new assignment, the latter made a powerful and humorous pitch for vocations to the priesthood and religious life.
Afterward, the teens retired to their tents for the night, and a breakfast the next morning concluded the rally.