Catholic Herald Staff
Extreme Faith Camp
More detailed information regarding plans for the June 15-19 virtual offering of Extreme Faith Camp was released by the Office of Catholic Formation days prior to a final Go To Meeting call with camp and parish catechetical leadership.
Although word had been received about Bishop James P. Powers’ go-ahead for parishes to begin offering restricted Communion Services, diocesan leadership in discussion with the bishop decided to move forward with their Phase I scenario for the mid-June youth event.
That plan includes a 60- to 90-minute live-streamed virtual evening program for campers and their families to watch at home. Programming will include talks, testimonies, music, dramas and prayer. Prayer journals will be distributed electronically, and physically if necessary.
These sessions will only be live-streamed from a single location and no direct in-person ministry will take place. If, over the next few weeks, gatherings have been opened to groups of 50 rather than the current limit of 10 people, parish leaders will be contacted and encouraged to hold in-person programming as well. As of the date of publication, that scenario was still deemed unlikely.
Familiar faces like Chris Hurtubise, associate director of the Office of Catholic Formation, Fr. Adam Laski, diocesan intern Elise Burns and others will be presenting the evening talks. There will be teen testimonies and music will be provided by singer/songwriter and diocesan native Aly Aleigha.
Hurtubise, who heads up the camps – offered for middle school-aged youth by adult and high school student leadership – acknowledged the decision would be received as difficult and disappointing.
Addressing the numerous people at the parish level who have been hard at work coming up with variations and options, Hurtubise offered, “We are with you in that grief, but the situation quite simply is what it is.
“And, we are 100 percent confident that the Lord Jesus, the Good Shepherd, is leading us through this dark valley and is endeavoring to feed us and sustain us and grow us through these unique circumstances.”
He added, “Since we believe that the heart of Extreme Faith Camp is an encounter with the Lord Jesus, especially in the Eucharist, we are hoping to do a day-long EFC reunion in August that would feature a big, beautiful Mass, fun, food and fellowship.”
Details for a tentative gathering on Aug. 15 are yet to be determined.
Steubenville St. Paul and Rochester Conferences
The two Midwest Steubenville youth conferences regularly attended by participants from the Diocese of Superior – in Rochester, Minnesota, and St. Paul, Minnesota – have been cancelled. Similar cancellations are taking place for the conferences across North America, five on campus in Steubenville, Ohio, and 17 other regional locations.
Amy Cummings, executive director of Partnership for Youth in Bloomington, Minnesota, the organization that runs the Minnesota-based conferences, said in a video message there was “much prayer and discernment” by the leadership team and board of directors, as well as close monitoring of the situation. Taking numerous factors into consideration, they made the “very difficult” decision to cancel the summer conferences.
Acknowledging the “spiritual impact these conferences have on our young people,” Cummings assured, “God can work outside of time and space, and that hearts and souls will be touched and changed this summer,” even though in-person camp is not possible.
Cummings announced that Partnership for Youth is working with Franciscan University to offer “Steubenville Live” on July 17-18.
As stated on steubenvilleconferences.com, “Since most of us won’t be able to gather in person this summer, we’re bringing Steubenville to you.”
With their conferences drawing an average of more than 50,000 participants each summer, organizers hope that a virtual format – “although nothing can beat an in-person” experience – could be the biggest Steubenville Conference to date.
A sign-up form is available on the website and families are invited and welcome to participate.