Your Path Awaits!

Viator Youth bring Las Vegas vibes into the arena.

That empowering theme drove last week’s LA Youth Day, hosted by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles’ Office of Religious Education in Anaheim. In only the second year since returning after a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic, the in-person event returned with all its power to energize teens about their faith.

Whether it was illusion from magician and keynote speaker Giancarlo Bernini, or using video games as an analogy with author Bobby Angel, or caring for the environment with guest speaker Kayla Jacobs; the day offered unique and vibrant ways to energize its teenage audience.

“Seeing so many young people gathered because of their faith, normalizes for them their desire to follow Christ,” said Br. John Eustice, CSV, one of the chaperones, “and reinforces they are not alone.”

Students and chaperones from St. Viator Parish

Officials estimated the crowd to be around 6,500 young people, who filled the Anaheim Convention Center with energy and excitement. Among them were high school students from St. Viator Catholic Community, St. Thomas More Catholic Community and Cristo Rey St. Viator, whose students — and teachers — were attending Youth Day for the first time.

“Worshipping together with friends is the witness of the Kingdom of God,” said Neil Guan, Campus Ministry Director at CRSV.

As in prior years, the teens from St. Viator Parish spent the first day at Knott’s Berry Farm before devoting the whole next day to Youth Day. It was an action-packed day, with the morning keynote session delivered by Bernini, described as the “Catholic magician,” and a concert by Joe Melendrez, all before a picnic lunch.

Kayla Jacobs of the Catholic Climate Covenant, poses with Pre-Associate Dan Masterton, Br. John Eustice and Br. Peter Lamick.

“LA youth day proves once again to be a trip that’s worth it,” Associate Rosy Hartz said. “From the music to the speakers, to a closing mass with 7,500, it shows the impact one day can make, with lasting memories for the youth of our church.”

The day builds toward the powerful closing Mass, celebrated at the end of the afternoon by Archbishop José H. Gomez as well as several auxiliary bishops.

The Mass fills the arena with its contemporary music, liturgical dancers, vibrant banners, lights and audio visuals. But the teens left uplifted after worshipping with so many of their peers and hearing an inspiring message from Archbishop Gomez.

Youth Day closing Mass

“We have a lot of choices nowadays for how we can live,” Archbishop Gomez said. “Open up social media and you’re going to find a lot of people telling you what makes them happy and trying to influence you to follow their way of thinking and living.

“God is telling you the truth,” he added. “About who he is. About who you are. And about what will truly make you happy in life.”