“Who is My Neighbor?”

Scenes from Byzanteen youth rally at St. Vincent College in Latrobe, PA.

Father Boniface Hicks, OSB


Eighty-nine teens and 22 chaperones from Arizona to New Jersey participated in the July 5 to 8 Byzantine Youth
Rally 2018 at Saint Vincent College, Latrobe, Pa The theme for this year’s rally was “Who is My Neighbor?,”
taken from the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10: 25- 37).

In addition, this theme was chosen to reflect the popular song, “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?,” from the public television program “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” because the archives of Fred Rogers are housed at Saint Vincent College in the Fred Rogers Center, where many of the Rally events took place.

The Rally began on the evening of July 5 with the keynote address presented by Father Boniface Hicks, OSB, a Benedictine monk of Saint Vincent Archabbey, director of spiritual formation at Saint Vincent Seminary, and general manager, programming manager and onair host of We Are One Body (WAOB) Catholic radio. Father Boniface’s remarks centered on the theme of “Who is My Neighbor?”

The teens began their first full day of the Rally on July 6 with breakfast and morning prayer, using the Third Hour. Following prayer, Father Boniface addressed the teens again about the spiritual aspect of service, particularly relating it to the service project the teens would be working on the next day.

Following this conference, Mr. Brady Smith from the local office of Rise Against Hunger, spoke to the teens about the history and mission of his organization. Mr. Smith engaged the teens in a presentation that outlined the problem of hunger in our world, the steps this organization is taking to stem the tide of this worldwide problem, and the role the teens would play during their participation in the service project the following

Following lunch the afternoon was spent either swimming, playing basketball, visiting the on campus planetarium, or using their vocal skills for choir practice in preparation for the Divine Liturgy Saturday evening. Following dinner, the teens listened to a presentation by Father Peter Borza of the Archeparchy of Presov, Slovakia, about our martyred Greek Catholic bishops of Europe. The evening concluded with the celebration of the Mystery of Reconciliation and the praying of the Panachida, remembering their deceased loved ones, and an evening social.

Saturday began with breakfast and morning prayer. At the conclusion of morning prayer, the teens walked to the Fred Rogers Center where they would put their faith into action and package meals for the organization Rise Against Hunger. Work stations were set up in a massive space where the teens would work together to assemble the food packets. Popular music played which motivated the teens to the point that towards the end of the service project they broke out into spontaneous line dancing.

In the end, our teens filled 20,000 meal packets which will be sent to various countries throughout the world. Before the pallets of boxes were loaded on the truck, Bishop John Pazak and Bishop Milan Lach blessed the meals. Mr. Smith and his assistants commented that our ByzanTeens were among the finest they have seen participate in such an event.

After lunch, the teens enjoyed another afternoon of sports, choir practice or nature walk. Following a break, the teens participated in the celebration of the Vigil Divine Liturgy. Metropolitan William was the main celebrant, with Bishop John Pazak, CSsR, Bishop Kurt Burnette, Bishop Milan Lach, SJ and Bishop John Kudrick concelebrating along with priest members of the Intereparchial Youth Commission.

The evening concluded with dinner and dancing, concluding in a “build your own banana split” treat. Following breakfast and morning prayer, the teens gathered for an evaluation of the weekend, and the announcement that the next ByzanTeen Rally 2020 will take place in San Diego. The teens returned to their respective eparchies with new friends and fond memories.