Hello everybody! I came back from a Steubenville Youth Conference several weeks ago, and I was interviewed for our diocesan newspaper, so I thought I would share my answers with you lovely people, and hopefully answer a few of your questions about just what these conferences are.
Name? Gabriela Marie
What year in what school? I am a senior at St. Mary’s Catholic High School
How many times have you made the trip Steubenville trip?
This was my third time attending a Steubenville Youth Conference
What was your role at Steubenville?
All three years that I have attended Steubenville I have been considered a high school participant. However, this year I did what is called Franciscan LEAD along with the Steubenville Conference. LEAD stands for Leadership, Evangelization And Discipleship. This is a 5 day (Monday through Friday) program teens can apply for in order to go deeper into the faith and topics talked about at the weekend conference. LEAD does not automatically give its participants any leadership or authoritative roles within their groups. However spiritually it gave me a leadership role of being a positive example to everyone there and fearlessly sharing my faith with others. This gift from God was priceless, and I was glad to have had that new role at the conference.
What is the appeal of Steubenville?
I think what attracts so many teens to Steubenville is the fact that it provides a safe environment to share our Catholic faith with thousands of other teens. At home it can be hard to share and live out our Catholic faith, however, Steubenville helps us teens bring new life to evangelization and what it truly means to live as a Catholic youth. When we stand together, have Adoration, go to mass, and sing our hearts out in praise to God with 4,000 other teens from all across the Midwest, it is a reminder that we are not alone. Satan wants us to follow the world and give up on our faith by convincing us that we are all alone, but Steubenville is a constant reminder that we are not alone as we strive to be the next generation of saints.
What was your biggest challenge associated with the trip?
Sleep deprivation, and feeling slightly drained was probably the biggest challenge for me especially because I did LEAD. LEAD was awesome, and we learned a lot, but it was all crammed into 5 long days, so by the end of the five days we were all tired, and still processing all that we had learned, experienced, and given to God in prayer that week. Then, after LEAD ended on Friday afternoon, we met up with our Steubenville groups for the weekend conference that would start that night. Of course the conference also gave us a lot of information in addition to being an experience in and of itself, however, I would not trade these difficulties for anything because they are all part of the experience.
What was your Greatest joy?
This is hard because there were so many joys along the way! I think the greatest joy was having the opportunity to meet so many new people and forming friendships that I could take home with me. I made so many friends on LEAD, and I was able to share what I learned at LEAD with other people I met over the weekend. Particularly I became friends with one person from my diocese, and I was able to share part of my faith journey with them and experience God working in both of our lives. This joy is hard to explain, because the joy that comes from having friends united in faith is irreplaceable.
Why should someone decide to go next year?
This again is a hard question to answer. As I said before it is simply awesome to share one faith with 4,000 other teens, however it is a different experience for each person, and it is a different experience each time you go. The reason I have gone the past three years is because the first time I went I experienced God in a very different way than I ever had before, and I knew God was working in me. I wanted to experience this again, so I continued to go and God has revealed himself to me differently each time. I guess what I am saying is that you should go to Steubenville if you want to experience God in a new way, and are totally willing to let him take the lead of your heart. However you must know that my experience at Steubenville and your friend’s experience at Steubenville will not be the same as yours because God has a different plan and way of revealing himself to each of us. You will just have to experience it for yourself!
Do you have any other insights?
I would encourage anyone who is interested to apply for LEAD this next year (sign-ups are in January). It is an experience you will not forget or regret! Also the weekend conference is amazing too. I can honestly say that these experiences are ones that will always stick with me and have definitely helped me on my faith journey. Any teens reading this might be thinking, “so Steubenville is over until next summer, now what?” The beautiful thing about Steubenville is that it does not end at the arena and remain left in Missouri or California or wherever for a year. If you have been to a Steubenville Conference, you share your experience. This year there were 241 of us from just from my diocese who joined in with 4000 other teens. This is really awesome and people need to know about that. If you are interested in Steubenville talk to your youth minister or priest and get in touch with people who have gone before. If you are unable to find someone who went to Steubenville this year, check out the official website for the conference http://www.steubenvilleconferences.com/youth. But while you wait this year for Steubenville to roll around again, surround yourself with good Catholic friends, because sometimes that can be the difference of life and death for your soul. Steubenville is an experience that helps us go out and share faith with others and as teens we are the next Generation of saints, so we need to start living like it.
If you would like to see some of the talks from my Steubenville conference this year, check out this website: http://steubystl365.com and I hope you all come to Steubenville next summer! Also Take a look at our new video, where Nick and I describe our experience.