Do whatever he tells you

Column: Youth director sees young church making a difference now

Rick Cheek is the associate consultant for the office of evangelization and Catholic formation of youth.

Rick Cheek is the associate consultant for the office of evangelization and Catholic formation of youth.

by Rick Cheek

There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home, and there truly is no place like home.

After all the traveling I’ve done in the month of January, Dorothy’s words from “The Wizard of Oz” really hit home. Out of the three places that I’ve visited — Orlando, Fla., for Catholic Heart Work Camp manager information; Washington, D.C., for the March for Life; and Albuquerque, N.M., for the annual National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry convention — I’d have to say my most memorable experience was the March for Life.

I shared with the young people on the trip that they were going to make history. Sure enough, this year’s March was one of the biggest ever, with an estimated 400,000 people marching in support of life.

Sadly, if you would have looked in the local newspaper in D.C. or even back here at home, you never would have known it. I liked what Kayla Nguyen from St. James Academy in Lenexa shared with the group on the bus.

“Don’t expect a lot of news coverage about the march when you get home. Last year I came home and was angry to see how the media portrayed it,” she said. “They reported our numbers as mere ‘hundreds’ of people, not thousands. It’s disheartening, but that has not kept me from coming back, and I hope that doesn’t keep you from coming back next year either.”

The wisdom and commitment of our young people never ceases to amaze me.

We have the most incredible group of young people in our archdiocese. Father George Hannah said it best after Saturday night when our young people arrived — straight from the bus — for Mass, dinner, a concert and a performance by Mikey Needleman and Mike Debus.

“Your young people are amazing!” he said. “I’ve never seen a group of young people so respectful of the real presence during adoration, Benediction and reconciliation, and I am grateful to be a part of what just happened here this evening.”

The Sisters of Life from New York said the same thing. I couldn’t agree with them more.

Mill Valley student Jill Applegate asked me in a phone interview, “Will Roe v. Wade ever be overturned?” Yes, through prayer and perseverance.

Then she asked, “Why is it important for teens to be at the march?” Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann quoted the prophet Jeremiah to answer that question: “Say not I am too young. To whomever I send you, you shall go; whatever I command you, you shall speak.”

To our young people: Our church needs you, our Holy Father needs you, and our archbishop needs you. You’re making a difference now.

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Rick Cheek

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