Fifth Diocesan Summit Again Draws Youth to RVC
By Amanda Hudson
November 2, 2017
ROCKFORD—More than  1,300 youth and 258 chaperones representing 55 parish and school groups joined around 60 volunteers for the fifth annual  Rockford Diocese Youth Summit on Oct. 29 at Rock Valley Community College, here.
Speakers included St. Bridget, Loves Park, youth minister Nic Frank who also served as master of ceremonies, St. Mary, Huntley, youth minister Jason Theobald and “Project 541” director Jill Duran.
The three speakers incorporated personal stories, video clips, photos and one very sweet visual aid – Frank’s youngest child – all to help bring their “BeLonging” messages to the youths.
That message included thoughts about the uniqueness of each person, of how much God loves – and even likes! – each of His sons and daughters whether or not they can feel it, and a quote that “We are the sum of the Father’s love for us” from Pope St. John Paul II.
Bishop David Malloy was present for nearly the entire day, visiting with groups of youths, celebrating Mass and good-naturedly laughing at himself in this year’s video created for the Summit by the diocesan Vocations Team.
In his homily, the bishop thanked the young people for coming. “Your presence,” he said, “the presence of every single one of you, contributes energy and faith and fun and conversion for others. It is true to say to each of you, it wouldn’t be the same this morning without you. Part of what is so cool about the Summit is that this place is full. You are not alone. There are others who share your Catholic faith.”
In speaking of the Summit’s theme, Bishop Malloy noted that “To belong is to be proud of what you are part of, and it is to know that you are accepted and loved ... One of the great sadnesses of being young (happens) if you feel like somehow you don’t belong ... The desire to belong is part of each of us ... And it’s written into us because God made us.  He made each of us for one purpose ... to be gathered with Jesus and with all the others who love Him for all eternity.  He made you to belong in heaven ... When you feel a desire to belong in this life, then, it’s an echo of God calling to you, reminding you.  Love Him.  Work now for Him!”
And “be longing for” Jesus, His Father and for heaven, he said, encouraging everyone to “pray in that silent space of your mind and your soul (and to) stir up that longing.”
Lunch, confession, fun and more inspiration followed the Mass.
Prior to the Summit, youths were invited to enter a Lip Sync contest, and two groups were scheduled to perform on stage at the Summit. Students from Christ the King Parish in Wonder Lake dressed in brown robes and waved candles as they performed “This Little Light of Mine.” A mixed-parish group from Freeport, Huntley, Loves Park, and St. Charles brought their act into the crowd as they lip synced
 “How Far I’ll Go” from the movie Moana.
The band, headed by Paul Vogrinc, kept the audience rocking to Christian tunes and then calming down to more meditative music particularly during adoration. A line for confession – provided by several priests of the diocese – stretched the length of the gym and back more than halfway.
By then the gym was filled with what Bishop Malloy called “those little, whispered prayers (that) are never unheard or forgotten by Jesus.”