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Guppy Fest still going strong after 24 years

What started as a pre-rally for World Youth Day in 1993 has blossomed into one of the most fun and popular youth events in the Archdiocese of Denver.

Guppy Fest is a day-long youth retreat held by St. Thomas More Parish in Centennial. This year marked the 24th iteration of the event, which has always been a grassroots campaign, said David Tschumper, director of youth ministry for St. Thomas More. The event drew about 175 middle-school aged youth representing 10 parishes from around the diocese, he said.

The very first Guppy Fest was called Fish Dance, and it served as a pre-rally for Saint John Paul II’s historic visit to Denver in 1993 for Worth Youth Day. The event drew 2,000 kids, Tschumper said, and the following year, St. Thomas More sought to continue the tradition at a local level and invite parishes from all over the archdiocese to participate. Guppy Fest is still going strong today.

This year’s Guppy Fest drew 175 middle-schoolers from 10 different parishes for a day of fun and faith formation. All of the activities and talks centered around the Year of Mercy and the story of the Prodigal Son, which were the themes of the event. (Photo provided by Matt Rogers)
This year’s Guppy Fest drew 175 middle-schoolers from 10 different parishes for a day of fun and faith formation. All of the activities and talks centered around the Year of Mercy and the story of the Prodigal Son, which were the themes of the event. (Photo provided by Matt Rogers)

The last two years of Guppy Fest have been geared more towards middle school students, with high school students taking on more of a leadership role in it, Tschumper said.

This year’s theme focused on both the Year of Mercy and the story of the Prodigal Son. Deacon Daniel Ciucci, a seminarian at St. John Vianney Theological Seminary, gave the keynote talk. Youth ministers and musicians from around the archdiocese were also part of Guppy Fest, giving other talks and leading the kids in worship.

The kids enjoyed skits put on by the high school volunteers and participated in breakout sessions during which they discussed the talks. They ended the day with bingo, dancing and a Divine Mercy Chaplet.

Aaron Lambert
Aaron is the Managing Editor for the Denver Catholic.
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