Ten area teens attend church conference

This article submitted by Maria Wegner on 12/2/97.

Ten Paynesville area teens and their two chaperones met at the St. Louis Catholic Church parking lot on Nov. 20, at 3:30 am. They were tired, anxious, and most of all excited, that this day had finally come. They were leaving for Kansas City, Mo., for the National Catholic Youth Conference. They would spend four days learning about their faith with about 18,000 other teens.

The members of the St. Louis Catholic Church high school youth group that went were: Jennifer Wendlandt, Tina Rooney, Michelle Lahr, Jen Lindquist, Sene Binsfeld, Nikki Hemmesch, Tricia Hemmesch, Maria Wegner, and Ricki Torborg. Jamie Gilk, Roscoe, also travelled with the group. Chaperones were Doris Wendlandt and Cathy Rooney.

Once in Kansas City, the group was met by a mob of people at their hotel. Around 6:30 p.m. the group finally made their way to the Kansas City Convention Center where they had their regional gathering, followed by a welcoming session, which was the first time all 18,000 people were together.

Nikki Hemmesch said, ďSitting at the opening prayer session, with 18,000 other young people, was thrilling, chilling, and inspiring.Ē

The group spent the next two days in workshops learning about their faith. Some of the workshops attended were: Catholic-By Choice or Chance, Home Improvements: A Guide To Raising Your Parents, Discovering Your Gifts, and Itís Cool To Be Catholic, just to name a few.

Also on Friday night, the group went to a christian rock concert where they had a blast listening to different musicians. Lahr and Wegner had an interesting encounter with the lead singer of Miss Angie that night.

ďMichelle and I walked into the restroom and here was this girl fussing with her hair, and we thought ĎOh, get over it.í About two minutes later the announcer introduced Miss Angie, and we just about fell over. It was the girl we had seen in the bathroom! My jaw hit the floor!Ē said Maria.

On Saturday morning, the members of the St. Cloud Diocesan met with Bishop Kinney and discussed the difficulties of expressing your faith and how everyone could bring what they learned back to their parishes. The group from Paynesville then went on to morning prayer and a concert by Jaci Velasquez, and then proceeded to wander aimlessly about the Heartland Village. The Village, as it was called, was a bunch of exhibits and activities in an exhibit hall that were there to entertain and educate the convention attendees.

In the evening the group went to various activities like the jazz hall and then to a dance called the Ballroom Blitz, where they danced the night away.

Sunday morning was filled with preparations for departure and for Sunday Mass. Mass was huge and quite a bit different than it is here in Paynesville. The songs were specially written for youth and the homily was exciting. Cheering was encouraged, and the priest giving the homily encouraged it and often led the cheers.

Overall the weekend was an exciting learning experience, filled with meeting people.

Rooney said, ďIt was incredible to see all of the people joined together to enhance their faith in the Lord.Ē

ďI will never forget going to church with all of those people, or singing ďOur God Is An Awesome GodĒ with everyone!Ē says Wendlandt.

Tricia Hemmesch says, ďI am already looking forward to the trip to St. Louis in í99, where the next gathering will be.Ē

ďThe theme for the weekend was ďTake It To HeartĒ and that is just what we did. We took everything to heart,Ē said Maria. ďOn behalf of our group, I would like to extend a huge Thank You to everyone in the community who helped support us in this endeavor. Without your time and support we could never have made it to Kansas City.Ē

Return to Archives