Youth Rally Invites 100 to ‘Be Real’
Megan Peterson Features/Multimedia Editor
October 19, 2023
WOODSTOCK—Joyful praise, guitar riffs and drum beats invited 100 high school students to get on their feet and sing as the “Be Real” youth rally opened at Marian Central Catholic High School the morning of Oct. 15. 
Just as the students of the McHenry Deanery settled down for the first speaker of the day, Nic Frank, he got the audience’s energy right back up. He split the audience into three parts, assigning each a word to shout when he pointed: “God … is … good!”
Then the cheer changed. 
“We know here that ‘God is good,’” Frank said, “but in our hearts we’re asking: Is … God … good?”
The students fell quiet as he spoke of the world’s “hunger” to find something good. How to fill that hunger? “One of the things we need most is to connect the knowledge of our head about the Lord to the desires of our heart,” he said. 
He said that, for him, that connection had been made at a conference he went to as a high school student. His parents had told him that if he went, he would get free pizza, and so he rode a bus for four hours and pushed through the talks and music, just wanting pizza. 
But during the weekend, a connection started forming between what he was hearing and what he desired. Then one evening during prayer, he said, “I remember having this thought … the thought was: Is God real?”
“If that’s real … not just something that people talk about or something that happens on Sundays … then that means that something in my life has to change.”
Or, in other words, “I had to start to be real with Him,” he said. 
At the Mass that followed, Father Keith Romke gave a hands-on (hammers-on) demonstration of breaking through the walls that can form in our hearts that keep us from fully believing in God’s love. “Whenever in life we struggle to believe, we cling to that hammer of faith and strike firmly against whatever walls might be in our life,” he said. 
Later, during his talk, Father Romke spoke on how God’s love for each participant  — as a son or daughter of God — defines who they are, not their accomplishments or failures. 
Frank’s story about his conference experience may have resonated with the students, but some had deeper reasons for attending the rally. 
Leslie Valle, a parishioner of Church of Holy Apostles in McHenry, said, “I came because … I love participating in my Church and being able to be around people that I care about and being able to grow in my faith.” 
She said it’s important to her to know that in all her day-to-day busyness, her faith is “still there” and that she’s able to help “the people I was blessed with” to grow closer to God.
The rally closed with a time of adoration with a monstrance procession through the aisles, bringing God’s love up close to each of His children. 
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