High School Youth Participate in Steubenville 2017

By Dolores Hinckley

Armed with cookies and Catholic T-shirts, high school students from parish youth groups in Gainesville and Branford parishes piled on a bus Friday afternoon to attend this year’s Steubenville conference in Orlando.

Youth from Queen of Peace, Holy Faith, St. Patrick parishes and San Juan Catholic Mission pose for a group photo before boarding a bus headed for the Steubenville Florida Conference in Orlando.

There were 39 teens from Queen of Peace, Holy Faith, St. Patrick parishes and San Juan Catholic Mission that participated in the conference over the June 30-July 2 weekend. Their day began early with a special 8:00 a.m. Mass at St. Patrick Church for the students, chaperones, and seminarians going to the conference.

A popular trip for high school youth groups across the country, Florida’s Steubenville conference is a chance for teens to grow in their faith beside each other, while guided by a ministry of nationally renowned Catholic speakers, musicians, and religious leaders.

For some students who have attended before, each Steubenville-sponsored conference is a chance to learn more about their faith with others their age. Remembering what they felt last time around made returning all the more joyful for some Gainesville students.

Youth gather for praise and worship during the Steubenville Florida Conference in Orlando.

“It was really life-changing,” said Miguel Perez, 17, a member of the Queen of Peace Parish, about last year’s conference. “It made you feel more open and closer to God.”

This year’s conference theme “Elevate,” was hosted by Chris Stefanick, a syndicated columnist and host of “Real Life Catholic” on EWTN.

Students at Steubenville got to hear from speakers Mary Bielski, Oscar Rivera Jr. and Noelle Garcia, as well as join in song together with the Josh Blakesley Band.

According to the Steubenville website, the highlight of the conference is the sacraments. The main goal is for students to take part in the Eucharistic Liturgy, with the option of also participating in reconciliation, Eucharistic Exposition, and adoration.