Youth from all over the archdiocese catch a ride to annual event

Leaven photo by Lori Wood Habiger Father Pontifex and Yung PK entertain the crowd of more than 350 at “One Thing Remains” on Dec. 30 at Blessed Sacrament Church in Kansas City, Kansas, with their own brand of hip-hop.
Father Pontifex and Yung PK entertain the crowd of more than 350 at “One Thing Remains” on Dec. 30 at Blessed Sacrament Church in Kansas City, Kansas, with their own brand of hip-hop. Leaven photo by Lori Wood Habiger.

By Moira Cullings
moira.cullings@theleaven.org

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — What would it take to convince a group of teenagers to take a three-hour bus ride with strangers to a church?

Free food?

The pope?

Not in this case. “One Thing Remains” — an event filled with eucharistic adoration, confession and socializing with other young people — was all it took.

And a 54-seat bus wasn’t large enough to fit the rural youth hoping to attend this year’s event. Four additional cars were needed to do the trick.

Living hours outside of Kansas City didn’t stop them from making their way to “One Thing Remains,” which celebrated its fourth year on Dec. 30 at Blessed Sacrament Church in Kansas City, Kansas.

This year’s event drew some 350 people from across the archdiocese.

“It was definitely a team effort putting ‘One Thing Remains’ on,” said Liz Miller, Wyandotte County youth outreach coordinator.

The evening lasted from 5 to 10 p.m., offering a unique musical performance, eucharistic adoration with Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann and an opportunity for confession, all followed by a social gathering at ReachKCK.

Organizers went out of their way to ensure that anyone who wanted to attend was able to do so.

Rural youth outreach coordinator Angie Bittner and her team sent a bus to parishes that requested it, stopping at five total on the way to Blessed Sacrament.

“Logistically, they live far away from big events that happen in Kansas City or otherwise, and so we want to help remove that barrier for them,” said Bittner.

The need for additional cars, she said, was “an awesome problem” to have.

“The bus was about a three-hour ride, and it really wasn’t too bad,” said Braden Myers, a senior at Blue Valley High School in Randolph and parishioner at St. Columbkille Parish in Blaine.

“It is always fun to be able to pick up many parishes along the way and get to meet new friends and see new faces,” he added.

Miller noted the event’s goal of creating community, which forms when you bring people together from across the geographic regions of the archdiocese.

The event’s organizers made sure everyone’s journey was worth it. A rap performance by two special guests brought energy to the night and was the perfect way to meet these young people on their own turf.

“The performance by Father Pontifex and Yung PK was awesome! Their style of music was rap/hip-hop, and usually you don’t think of rap when listening to Christian music,” said Kylie Hutfles, a junior at Horton High School, and a member of St. Leo there.

“It was neat to listen to a different style while worshiping,” she continued. “Their music was fun, entertaining and everyone was rocking out all night long!”

“[The church] was meeting people on many different levels,” said Miller. “Kind of on a base level of music and rap, teens like that.”

“But then the invitation to go deeper into prayer and adoration was powerful,” she continued.

Eucharistic adoration with the archbishop was also a major highlight of this five-hour event.

“When [the archbishop] goes and does adoration with the Catholic schools in Kansas City, that’s such an incredible event,” said Bittner. “It was so cool for our kids to see that and be with him while we adored the Eucharist.”

For both Hutfles and Myers, adoration was the best part of the evening.

“This was my first time being at adoration with the archbishop, and it’s an experience I will always remember,” said Hutfles.

“During adoration, red and white cloaks run from the altar down to the front. You could go touch the cloaks while kneeling,” she continued. “It was an amazing moment I would love to do again.”

“Every time I have heard the archbishop’s homily, it always touches me,” said Myers. “He does such a great job explaining things and letting everyone understand about adoration and why we have the great opportunity.”

After adoration, everyone was invited to ReachKCK for a reception with the opportunity to eat, hang out in the coffee shop and work on art projects.

Through this event, Miller hopes those who attended “feel a little bit more connected into the community of the church, that they came to know Jesus a little bit better.”

“They’re so appreciative of the chance,” said Bittner, “even on the bus. They got back at midnight, and that’s pretty hard to do. . . . So it is really building community among the people of the archdiocese, and the kids love it.”

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