U.S. teens say faith strengthened at youth celebration in Rome

IMAGE: CNS photo/Tony Gentile, Reuters

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Sharing and celebrating the joy of
faith with thousands of Catholic teenagers from around the globe was a rare
moment that not many people are able to experience, a U.S. teen said.

“It was a different atmosphere than what I’m used to,
but it’s good because it shows that the beauty of the Catholic Church is
there,” Emily Sullivan told Catholic News Service April 25.

Emily, her brother Ryan and parents Matt and Susan, came
from North Carolina to participate in the Year of Mercy celebration for young teens April 23-24
in Rome.

Both siblings, who are preparing to receive the sacrament of
confirmation, said
that despite the language barrier, they were able to join in singing and
praying during the April 23 youth rally at Rome’s Olympic Stadium.

“It was awesome; the energy was insane,” Emily
said. “The people knew all the lyrics and they were jamming out. So we
came up with a couple of words that we could sing along. It was really cool to
be in that atmosphere.”

To see so many Catholic teens in one place was
“definitely encouraging,” she added.

For Ryan, attending the April 24 Mass in St. Peter’s Square
was the highlight of his pilgrimage. “It was great seeing the pope,” and “meeting other
people and seeing the city” was “all good,” he told CNS.

“We will make our confirmation in two weeks so it was
definitely great to see the history of the church and (meet) other people who
are Catholic because where we live, there’s not as big of a following,”
Emily said.

his homily, Pope Francis told the more than 100,000 teens present that happiness “is not
an ‘app’ that you can download on your phones” and that love leads to true
freedom, which is a gift that comes
from “being able to choose good.”

The pope’s message, Emily said, encouraged people “to go back to the church
at the end of the day, not your phone.”

Their mother Susan told CNS she hopes that
attending the jubilee event
will give her children a
“fuller and richer experience” as they prepare to receive confirmation in two

“It was really important for me and for them to have
this experience,” she said. “To be that close (to Pope Francis) as he
was celebrating Mass was truly, I hope, a life-changing experience for them
that reaffirms their faith.”

– – –

Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju.

– – –

Copyright © 2016 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

Original Article