Thirteen students and two chaperones from St. Louis Catholic Church joined 3,000 other students in Denver for three days of prayer, songs, and activities. With travel time, they were gone a total of five days, from July 12-17.
Amy Buermann summed it up. "My first word would be ďamazing'!" she said.
What was so "awesome," "amazing," and "powerful" about it?
Pictured at left: (front L to R) Samantha Lieser, Amy Buermann, and Melissa Andrie; (second row) Amy Mueller, Sara Lieser, Jessica Heinen, Monica Kraemer, Heidi Jansen, and Jessica Andrie; (back) Jim Andie, Leon Fuchs, Andy Torborg, Adam Leyendecker, Courtney Fuchs, Jason Leyendecker, Maria Kraemer, and Laurie Rausch.
All who were present have a difficult time describing it.
"It's hard to pick out what made it the way it was," said Jessica Heinen, conference participant. "You'd never experience it without going there."
"You can't explain what you experience," she continued. "It's more of an internal thing."
Amy Mueller agreed. "It's all indescribable and really overwhelming. I learned a lot about my faith."
"It's a whole different part of the church that most people don't get to see," explained Laurie Rausch, chaperone and youth minister at St. Louis. Also chaperoning was Jim Andrie.
According to Rausch, the music, inspiring speakers, and powerful mass services all made it a deeply spiritual experience.
"It was spiritually amazing," said Buermann. "It was more directed towards spiritual growth than fun, though it was fun."
Before the conference started, the bus made stops at Estes Park and the Mother Cabrini Shrine. The shrine was devoted to Mother Cabrini, who built orphanages and schools in the past.
The group held a prayer service in the chapel and did a 373-step prayer walk up to the foothills of the Rocky Mountains.
The conference began the evening of Friday, July 14, with music by a worship and praise band.
"We sang and sang and sang. It was great," said Rausch.
The next day they listened to a speaker on "The Power of Giving." They also separated the sexes and celebrated two masses. There was a panel at each mass which addressed issues of concern to young men or women.
In the afternoon, the sacrament of reconciliation was going on as well as a concert by a christian rock band. Next, the students had to choose one of three workshops to attend. Then there was more music and a drama. At the end of the afternoon, a speaker talked about Jesus' life through the eyes of Mary.
That night, there was an adoration mass that was almost universally a favorite for the participants. Afterwards, they discussed the experience in small groups.
"It's a time God really talks to a lot of people," said Rausch. "You are at rest and peace. There's a feeling that everything is okay."
On Sunday morning, there was more music and prayer. There was a discussion about reaching others with the gospel. The closing mass was celebrated by the archbishop of Denver.
The group spent the rest of the afternoon at Six Flags Great America outside of Denver before returning home.
"I really feel like people connected with God and their faith," said Rausch, of the conference. "I know we'll go again next year. I hope more will come and experience their faith and the church."
This year's participants were: Jessica Heinen, Amy Buermann, Samantha Lieser, Heidi Jansen, Courtney Fuchs, Amy Mueller, Sarah Lieser, Jessica Andrie, Melissa Andrie, Monica Kraemer, Maria Kraemer, Leon Fuchs, Andy Torborg, Adam Leyendecker, and Jason Leyendecker.
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