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KOCHVILLE TWP. – A crowd of approximately 1000, most of them youth, gathered yesterday for the Diocese of Saginaw’s second Mid-Michigan Youth Faith Exchange (MYE Faith). The all-day youth event included dynamic speakers, breakout discussion sessions, prayer, Mass and a concert featuring JJ Weeks Band.
MYE Faith 2015 also included a spectacular performance by “The Cross and the Light." The audience was wowed by the Broadway quality singers from the Detroit area.
“They told a story in a way that normally you don’t hear in a musical,” said Stewart Zondlak, a senior at Dow High School in Midland and a parishioner at Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Midland. “It was really cool how they did it. I liked it a lot.”
The Most Rev. Joseph R. Cistone, Bishop of Saginaw, also took the stage. He captured the attention of attendees through song and his guitar when he performed with members of the praise and worship band, "Jesus and Music" or "JAM."
Toward the end of the day, Bishop Cistone celebrated Mass for those gathered. He spoke about the theme of the day, love, during his homily message. Referencing his coat of arms and his motto, "Father of Mercy and Love," Bishop Cistone told those gathered that just as Jesus perfectly loves the Father, we, too, are called to imitate the Lord's love. He also shared that as we do our best to follow Jesus, sometimes we fail and God's mercy is always available.
Another very moving moment was the Eucharistic procession into the Ryder Center. With lights dimmed, Bishop Cistone processed in slowly as all eyes were on the Lord in the Eucharist, beginning adoration.
“It was very holy and reverent and also it was a great way to end the opening ceremony for us,” said Hannah Loveless, a sophomore at Dow High School in Midland and a parishioner at Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish in Midland. “I thought it was very great to see that up close and personal.”
Light-hearted moments and laughter permeated the day as well. The seminarians of the Diocese of Saginaw energized and entertained the audience by playing “drums” on plastic buckets. Attendees also felt a sense of parish pride and unity throughout the diocese as images of parishes were displayed on large screens and on banners.
JJ Weeks Band closed out the day by having most of the crowd up on their feet, dancing and giving praise to God. Parents, priests, religious sisters and even Bishop Cistone sang and danced in the crowd.
“Our culture has many definitions of love,” said Mark Graveline, coordinator of youth ministry for the Diocese of Saginaw. “Today, we wanted to bring clarity to the question ‘What is love?’ We wanted to show how Jesus Christ and the Good News of the gospel answers this question. The youth experienced Christ’s love through the sacraments, 'The Cross & the Light’s performance, the music, breakout sessions and other aspects of the event. It was a great day.”