What a day! More than 300 young people gathered on Saturday September 5 for the Big Day Out ‘Real Life! Real Power! Generation 1’ to discover and celebrate what it means to be young and radically Catholic in today’s world. The Youth Ministry Team of the Palmerston North Diocese hosted the day and US religious entertainer Jesse Manibusan was the key entertainment.
There were also fire spinners, uni-cyclists, jugglers, clowns, English bobbies, drama, bands and displays by the CityWide Youth Ministry Team, Tertiary Chaplaincy, Young Vinnies, Mahitahi, Caritas, Pleroma, the Passionist Family Movement and St Peter’s College. There were displays on World Youth Day 2011, decorations, photos and posters all adding to the flavour and entertainment of the day and all before entering the auditorium to be uplifted, entertained, encouraged to sing, pray, worship, stand, dance, shout and be part of the momentum and banter that is uniquely Jesse Manibusan’s.
God is good?
All the time!
All the time?
God is good!
Who’s the church?
Where’s the church?
And on it went, singing action songs led by Jesse’s wife Jodi and a raft of ring-ins from the floor.
Vespa, a three-piece band from St Peter’s College, preceded the day’s festivities. We were all welcomed by our MCs for the day, Beth Kriechbaum and Phoebe Shannon from St Peter’s College, and then led in praise and worship by the Taranaki Youth Band. Jesse Manibusan was overwhelmed by a ‘haka powhiri’ in which Rex Begley and the students from Hato Paora College welcomed him.
After Jesse’s initial appearance, Josie Leota gave a reflection on her World Youth Day 2008 experiences and Paul Skippen introduced the Parish Internship Programme intended to develop youth leadership and participation within the parish.
After lunch, Jon Bowen cleared out any cobwebs leading the crowd in singing, twirling and dancing Christian rock. Jesse continued with several sessions of, at times, spell-bindingly energetic display and brought the crowd from the lively banter of the morning to a gentle awareness of God’s presence and the need to respond to God’s call with a special attention to being radically Catholic.
At the beginning of the final ritual, Bishop Peter Cullinane continued this theme, retelling the story of Mary anointing Jesus’ feet (Jn 12:1-8). He pointed to the cost of love saying that ‘the appropriate response to excessive love is excessive love—beyond the normal, the sufficient and the sensible’ and asked everyone to consider their calling in life.
Then Paul Skippen looked at what it meant to respond to God’s call in relation to issues of social justice through a mime while Alice Gilberd painted the face of Christ. Students from Francis Douglas College in New Plymouth presented an animated production of ‘Even the Winds and the Waves Obey Him’.
The day was spattered by a video celebrating the faith of youth around the diocese and their response to their awareness of God’s call. Many people have expressed the desire for further such events. Helen O’Sullivan RNDM, the National Project Coordinator for the New Zealand Catholic Bishops’ Conference Office for Young People said, ‘The day with Jesse was just fantastic. For those not there, it was an event that you sadly missed’. This sentiment was also echoed by those who attended and many of the priests from around the diocese.
Any parish wanting to organise youth events should contact Paul Skippen Diocesan Young Catholics coordinator for the Palmerston North Diocese at firstname.lastname@example.org.