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Steubenville of the Rockies offers a deep faith experience

05/18/2018 | Comments

COLORADO SPRINGS. Powerful. Faith deepening. Growing in understanding. That’s how St. Mary’s High School students describe their experiences at last year’s Steubenville of the Rockies Youth Conference in Denver. This year, St. Mary’s High School has reserved 13 student spots and three chaperone spots for the conference, which will be held June 22-24 at the Crowne Plaza at the Denver International Airport.

In 2017, junior Adam Maal  attended his third Steubenville conference, having attended in 2015 and 2016 with his older brother Andrew. Before his first year at Steubenville, Adam Maal said he was a little scared because talking about his faith is not something he usually does with his friends. But once the conference was underway, Maal became comfortable and the speakers shared messages that he had been needing to hear.

“You really learn about youth in the Catholic church,” Maal said. “The speakers talked about dealing with the pressures of drugs, alcohol and pornography. I thought I was by myself in dealing with pressure from society but the conference opened my eyes and showed me that I wasn’t alone.”

The Maals’ father, Luis Maal, said each year after the Steubenville conference he saw that his sons had grown in their faith, not only in learning and understanding more about being a Catholic, but also knowing Jesus as the living presence of God in their lives.

“I would tell other parents that Steubenville must be experienced by every high school age student, especially those preparing for the sacrament of confirmation,” Luis Maal said. “Students participate in two dynamic eucharistic liturgies, in the sacrament of reconciliation as well as a powerful time of eucharistic exposition and adoration in one weekend! That’s the beauty of Steubenville!”

Denver’s Steubenville Youth Conference is part of a series of 25 conferences held across North America; the series is an outreach of Franciscan University of Steubenville. Each conference includes daily Mass, sessions that are separated by gender so that boys and girls can talk about struggles that are specific to their gender, sessions on issues and current events, confession, and eucharistic adoration.

Adoration was the highlight of the conference for three of the St. Mary’s students who attended last year, with Maal describing adoration as “very emotional and very powerful.” Sophomore Sarah Weeks, who will be attending her second Steubenville conference this summer, agreed.

“Adoration was really powerful,” Weeks said. “We were all holding hands and it was very moving to be in such intense prayer. It’s a weekend where you’re just focused on your faith and community. Without the distractions, you are able to dive deeper into your faith.”

Sophomore Haley Morgan  doesn’t love large crowds, so she wasn’t sure that she would enjoy the experience at Steubenville. But once she was there and involved, she felt very comfortable as she was surrounded by others who shared her beliefs.

“Adoration was a time when I gained a deeper understanding of why we do adoration and what we are supposed to get out of it,” Morgan said. “I now get that this is one way that we can be closer to God in an intense way.”

Father Joe Dygert, theology teacher for the junior class at St. Mary’s High School, attended the Steubenville conference last year as one of the chaperones. Dygert said the conference build on the ideas and worldviews of the church that the students learn in theology class.

“Classes don’t immerse students in living the faith. It’s very different to go to a conference and have the experience of the faith,” Dygert said. “It’s an exciting and enjoyable and deepening experience to be with thousands of other youth all from different families and walks of life who are together taking steps to deepen their faith.”

St. Mary’s High School students who are interested in attending the Steubenville conference should contact Father Dygert or Joe Trechter as soon as possible to reserve their spot.

(Amy G. Partain is director of communications for St. Mary’s High School.)

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