Steubenville highlights vibrancy of faith in youth of the nation

It was quite a sight to behold when 2,000-some young people gathered in the convention center at Crowne Plaza DIA June 24-26 for the Steubenville of the Rockies youth conference.

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Steubenville is one of the Archdiocese of Denver’s most popular youth events, organized each year by the Office of Evangelization and Family Life Ministries in conjunction with the Franciscan University of Steubenville in Ohio. The event draws youth and adults representing dioceses and parishes from all around the country, and shows the vibrancy of the Catholic faith among the youth of the nation.

The theme for this year’s conference was “Thirst,” with an emphasis on Romans 5:8, and teens were treated to a variety of talks by several speakers, including Sarah Swafford, Jason Evert and Brian Greenfield. Father Jim Crisman was the main celebrant for the weekend, but Denver Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila said Mass on Saturday morning.

DENVER, CO, June 25, 2016 - Over 3,000 young people from all over the country were in attendance at Steubenville of the Rockies, which was held at the convention center at Crowne Plaza DIA.

Over 3,000 young people from all over the country were in attendance at Steubenville of the Rockies, which was held at the convention center at Crowne Plaza DIA. (Photo by Aaron Lambert)

The separate men’s and women’s talks are often highlights of Steubenville, but this year in particular, Jason Evert gave a talk titled “Love, Same Sex Attraction and Tolerance,” and it was so popular that Evert actually delivered the talk at a later time for those who were turned away, marking the first time such a thing had happened in the history of Steubenville.

The Saturday night Eucharistic holy hour is widely heralded as the most powerful moment of the entire conference, and it was no different this year. Thousands of teens knelt before the Blessed Sacrament as Father Crisman led a Eucharistic Procession around the convention center, and the presence of the Holy Spirit led many to raise their hands in humble worship.

Logan Yerian-Higgins

Logan Yerian-Higgins, an 11th grader from Sacred Heart Parish in Fruita, attended Steubenville for the first time this year, and participated in the LEAD retreat the week prior to prepare spiritually for the conference. Of the retreat, he said it was the “best week of my life.” (Photo by Aaron Lambert)

The week prior to Steubenville, several local youths attended a LEAD retreat, a five-day spiritual preparation for the conference. Logan Yerian-Higgins, an 11th grade parishioner at Sacred Heart Parish in Fruita, said being a part of LEAD helped him to break out of his shell and more fully prepare for Steubenville.

“It was probably the best week of my life,” he said.

This year marked the third time at Steubenville for Marian Bettinger, an 11th grader at Holy Trinity in Westminster. She was also a part of LEAD, and said that doing the retreat in preparation for Steubenville has helped her prayer life immensely.

Marian Bettinger

This year was the third time at Steubenville for Marian Bettinger, an 11th grader from Holy Trinity in Westminster. She said that Steubenville has helped her prayer life immensely, and encourages any teen hesitant to attend Steubenville to “Take that first step. You will gain so much.” (Photo by Aaron Lambert)

“To be able to discover prayer and actually talk with God and have a conversation with God, that is life changing,” Bettinger said. “I’ve had powerful experiences in adoration where I’ve been moved to understand God’s love for me. During this week, I’ve really grown in prayer.”

COMING UP: Youths’ ‘thirst’ for Christ quenched at Steubenville of the Rockies

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Thousands of youth gathered June 24-26 at Crowne Plaza DIA for the annual Steubenville of the Rockies youth conference. The theme for this year’s conference was “Thirst,” and featured talks by several speakers, including Sarah Swafford, Jason Evert and Brian Greenfield. Youth representing parishes and dioceses from all over the country were in attendance, and were challenged throughout the weekend to grow in their own faith. A special Mass said by Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila on Saturday morning was one of the highlights of the weekend (listen to it here), as was the powerful Saturday night Eucharistic adoration holy hour. Denver Catholic was at the conference to capture these two special moments of the weekend.

DENVER, CO, June 25, 2016 - Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila processes in and kneels at the altar before the Saturday morning Mass at Steubenville of the Rockies. (Photo by Aaron Lambert/Denver Catholic)

Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila processes in and kneels at the altar before the Saturday morning Mass at Steubenville of the Rockies. (Photo by Aaron Lambert/Denver Catholic)

DENVER, CO, June 25, 2016 - Over 3,000 young people from all over the country were in attendance at Steubenville of the Rockies, which was held at the convention center at Crowne Plaza DIA.

Thousands of young people from all over the country were in attendance at Steubenville of the Rockies, which was held at the convention center at Crowne Plaza DIA. (Photo by Aaron Lambert/Denver Catholic)

DENVER, CO, June 25, 2016 - During his homily, Archbishop Aquila reflected upon the Gospel reading of the day, which recounted the story of the centurion, and implored the youth in attendance to maintain that same demeanor of faith in their own lives.

During his homily, Archbishop Aquila reflected upon the Gospel reading of the day, which recounted the story of the centurion, and implored the youth in attendance to maintain that same demeanor of faith in their own lives. (Photo by Aaron Lambert/Denver Catholic)

DENVER, CO, June 25, 2016 - Worship and liturgical music for the weekend was provided by a band of musicians led by St. Thomas More worship leader Ben Walther (center).

Worship and liturgical music for the weekend was provided by a band of musicians led by St. Thomas More worship leader Ben Walther (center). (Photo by Aaron Lambert/Denver Catholic)

DENVER, CO, June 25, 2016 - Archbishop prepares the gifts for consecration during the Communion prayer.

Archbishop prepares the gifts for consecration during the Communion prayer. (Photo by Aaron Lambert/Denver Catholic)

DENVER, CO, June 25, 2016 - Archbishop Aquila presents the host for consecration during the Communion prayer.

Archbishop Aquila presents the host for consecration during the Communion prayer. (Photo by Aaron Lambert/Denver Catholic)

DENVER, CO, June 25, 2016 - Archbishop Aquila blesses the congregation while processing out after the celebration of the Mass.

Archbishop Aquila blesses the congregation while processing out after the celebration of the Mass. (Photo by Aaron Lambert/Denver Catholic)

DENVER, CO, June 25, 2016 - Father Jim Crisman stands at the altar before the Blessed Sacrament during adoration. Adoration was the most powerful part of Saturday evening at the Steubenville conference.

Father Jim Crisman stands at the altar before the Blessed Sacrament during adoration. Adoration was the most powerful part of Saturday evening at the Steubenville conference. (Photo by Aaron Lambert/Denver Catholic)

DENVER, CO, June 25, 2016 - Father Crisman led a Eucharistic Procession around the convention center during adoration.

Father Crisman led a Eucharistic Procession around the convention center during adoration. (Photo by Aaron Lambert/Denver Catholic)

DENVER, CO, June 25, 2016 - Many youth lost themselves during adoration and lifted their hands in worship. After the music had ceased, the congregation continued to softly chant prayers.

Many youth lost themselves during adoration and lifted their hands in worship. After the music had ceased, the congregation continued to softly chant prayers. (Photo by Aaron Lambert/Denver Catholic)