On Sunday, Nov. 1, All Saints Day, approximately 755 households participated in the online event “Witness.” Several local parishes gathered for “watch parties” where youth listened to talks, played games, and participated in praise and worship, under the theme “Surrounded by Saints.”
High School youth from several area parishes volunteered as emcees and led praise and worship songs. Bishop Robert Gruss and Catholic speaker Doug Tooke shared messages about the Communion of Saints and how all faithful are called to lives of holiness.
Bishop Gruss cited multiple examples of young people who lived exemplary lives despite adversity and reminded the youth how the saints were just like them. One example was Blessed Carlo Acutis, who enjoyed playing video games, loved the Eucharist, died in 2006 and was recently beatified by Pope Francis. In response, participants were asked to share comments online and with each other about their favorite saints.
“I thought it was fun to watch and I was smiling and laughing a lot while watching it,” said Drew Beckman, a high school senior and parishioner of St. Peter Parish in Chesaning.
“The event was a blessing,” said Mark Graveline, coordinator of youth ministry for the Diocese of Saginaw. Graveline hosted one of the “watch parties.” “The games made us all laugh and the kids were inspired by Bishop and Doug Tooke’s talks. They seemed to really enjoy the music by Village Lights and our local youth. Our original plan was to gather 700 in one location to help them grow closer to God, enjoy a fun time and be reminded that they are not alone. Even though we were not able to gather in person, I am happy we were able to offer something for our young people. In the end, God provided a unique way for us.”
Youth ministers from multiple parishes worked together with Diocese of Saginaw staff and its partners to create the online event after the original event was postponed because of the pandemic. The online format and its content also made it easier to invite people of all ages.
“It was really nice to have something for our kids," said Katie Eichler, youth minister at St. Peter Parish in Chesaning. “We’ve had to get creative with ways to form our young people. This event is one example of how the Lord helped us move forward despite restrictions and cancellations. It was fun working with colleagues from different parishes and our friends at the Diocese. I can’t wait to see the young people’s faces when we finally get together for a large event next year.”
The in person Witness event is currently scheduled for Oct. 30, 2021 in Saginaw at Nouvel Catholic Central High School. More information can be found at witnessevent.org.
The household viewer number above includes viewers from YouTube, Facebook and witnessevent.org. The majority of viewers were from our Diocese, but there were also viewers from outside of our Diocese and even outside of the country.