MADISON — One hundred-twenty students and more than 30 youth ministers, pastors and catechists gathered Saturday, Feb. 28, at Madison St. Joe High School for Cross Connections, I’m Catholic and I mean it. The convention, sponsored by the Office of Youth Ministry,
had break-out sessions for teens and adults including a talk on vocations led by Father Matthew Simmons, Vocations Director and seminarians Aaron Williams and Mark Shoffner. The teens heard from a former contestant on “America’s Top Model,” a youth leader from Iowa and a rap artist from the West Coast.
The gathering was designed to give the teens from across the diocese encouragement in their faith and give the youth leaders some resources and help them get to know one another better so they could share ideas and help one another.
The morning session featured Leah Durrow, former reality television contestant who says her time on America’s Top Model led to a conversion experience.
In the afternoon, Brian Topping spoke about how he had just arrived in Jackson when he got into a conversation with a clerk at the rental car company about Catholicism in Mississippi. He used the story as a way to point out that opportunities to be a proud Catholic abound.
In the evening Joe Melendrez, who had to drive from Dallas to get to the convention when his flight was cancelled, let the students in a spirited musical presentation which included stations of the cross. Melendrez is best known for his ‘rosary rap,’ which he wrote for teens.
Youth office coordinator Kathie Curtis expressed her gratitude for all the speakers, volunteers, attendees and Catholic Extension, who made the conference possible.