300 youth dine with Archbishop Kurtz

Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz spoke to, from left, Ben Watkins, Amelia Watkins and Jeremy Watkins at last Friday’s Dinner with the Archbishop. The Watkins siblings attend St. Catherine Church in New Haven, Ky. The dinner, held at St. Gabriel Church, attracted 300 youth and 190 adult sponsors. (Record Photo by Jessica Able)

By JESSICA ABLE
Record Staff Writer

On a Friday evening when many teenagers are at football games or parties, more than 300 young people and 190 adult sponsors gathered at St. Gabriel Church, 5505 Bardstown Road, for the Dinner with the Archbishop.

Sponsored annually by the Archdiocese of Louisville’s Vocation Office, the Sept. 14 evening dinner aimed to explore the theme of “Bringing Christ to Others” — which is also the theme of this year’s Catholic Services Appeal.

In his homily Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz told the young people that he recently visited Jerusalem and the church that houses the true cross of Christ.

“They could have called it the Holy Cross Church but instead they named it for the empty tomb because it’s not about dying but rising,” he said. “When a seed dies to self it brings forth new life.”

“I’m here to talk to you tonight about being a true friend of Christ,” the archbishop added. “If you follow him, you will live a life of joy.”

Archbishop Kurtz also introduced the various vocations of priesthood, diaconate, religious life, married life and single life.

“Tonight is about seeing if God wants you to be called to a life of service,” he said.

During and following dinner, the youth were encouraged to visit the booths of various religious orders and communities. Those in attendance were: Carmelite Sisters, Sisters of Mercy of the Americas,
Dominican Sisters of Peace, Sisters of Charity of Nazareth, Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia, Ursuline Sisters of Louisville, Passionists of Holy Cross Province, Sisters of Loretto, Conventual Franciscans, Trappists from the Abbey of Gethsemani, Ursuline Sisters of Mt. St. Joseph, Benedictine Sisters of Covington, Benedictine monks from St. Meinrad Archabbey, Sisters of St. Benedict of Ferdinand, Xaverian Brothers and the Archdiocese of Louisville Vocation Office.

Joe Cox, a parishioner from St. Martin de Porres Church, said he attended the evening because he wanted to see what it was all about. He also “wanted to see the archbishop” because he had never met him before.

Following a short DVD presentation that detailed how various religious and lay members of the archdiocese “bring Christ to others,” Father Jeffrey Shooner, director of the Vocation Office, encouraged the teens to think how they could bring Christ to others in their daily lives.

Cooper Baas, a parishioner at St. Patrick Church, said the video was interesting because it focused on how people felt compelled to tell others about the word of Jesus Christ.

“It didn’t matter if they were clergy or community members, their goal was to spread the word of God. It really touched me,” the 16-year old Highlands Latin School student said.

Following dinner, the young people and their sponsors listened to Catholic inspirational speaker Cooper Ray. Ray travels across the United States and speaks at events such as the National Catholic Youth Conference and leads retreats at the parish and diocesan level.

Through his talk and praise music, Ray addressed the night’s topic of vocations.

“Vocation is the response a person makes with his or her total self to the call to partnership with God,” he said. “The focus for tonight is a partnership with God. Don’t worry about what it is, just worry about the partnership.”

Ray recounted the story of the disciples leaving everything they knew to follow Jesus.

“In some ways they had to die to self a little bit in order to give total self to Jesus,” he said.

Ray noted that a lot of times Jesus becomes a thing we do one hour a week or a couple of times a day.

“The whole point is that Jesus needs to follow us in every aspect of our life not just tonight at Dinner with the Archbishop but in all aspects of life,” he said.

Ray told the teens and adult sponsors that it’s easy to get caught up in the question “What is God leading me to do?”

“Focus on being. Being holy. Being in the presence of God. Being in partnership with God,” he said. “God will reveal that plan for you. If you don’t know where God is leading you, ask him.”

Cooper Ray, a Catholic inspirational speaker, led the teens and adult sponsors in praise music after the dinner. Ray also spoke “the call to partnership with God.”

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