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LifeTeen celebrates being ‘joyful Catholics’ at Six Flags

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“How often can you say that you could join in a celebration of Mass in an amusement park?” The comment was more joyful observation that curious inquiry from Francesa Medina, a member of the Covina’s Sacred Heart Church LifeTeen community, one of hundreds of LifeTeen groups that recently descended on Six Flags Magic Mountain in Santa Clarita for a day full of fun and fellowship capped off with Eucharistic celebration, inspirational speakers and Eucharistic Adoration.The “LifeTeen 2013 Inspirational Tour” was the tenth year the national LifeTeen organization hosted a gathering at the Santa Clarita amusement park. More than 2,300 teens from California dioceses (including Los Angeles and Orange) and local military bases signed up to spend an entire Saturday riding roller coasters, screaming and hanging out with their friends. The day ended with Mass celebrated by Archbishop José Gomez, joined by U.S. Military Archbishop Timothy Broglio. Also in attendance was a large group of seminarians from St. John’s Seminary in Camarillo.LifeTeen leaders say the day, while it is energy-packed and festive, is also a time for them to chat with the young adults about issues on how spirituality can be a part of their lives. “When the kids are standing in the long lines for a ride, that’s the perfect time to talk with them, hear about their problems and concerns and then bring them back to Christ,” said Stephen Lenahan, director of events for LifeTeen based in Atlanta. “We also want to let them know that being a Catholic is about being joyful; that you can have fun as you celebrate your faith. That’s why we keep coming back to Magic Mountain.”And there were plenty of exhausted smiles and goofy grins as the teens waited to enter the outdoor amphitheater where the Eucharistic celebration would take place at dusk. Many of the teens had been here since 10 a.m. and they were relishing sitting down — many others were looking forward to the Mass. “I was here last year and it was such a good experience and I really got to feel God’s love at the celebration,” said Kailey Martinez from Our Mother of Good Counsel in Los Feliz. “It was really uplifting and very powerful,” concurred her friend Ericka Baldwin. “I especially felt connected to God during the adoration.”“I’m expecting to get pumped up!” exclaimed Carina Giancanelli from the Sacred Heart LifeTeen group who was attending for the first time. Indeed, when the gates finally opened, a small cheer erupted from the crowds as teens made their way into the amphitheater where the Ike Ndolo band from South Africa began to rock the house.The drum pounding and thumping guitar may have sounded like a typical rock concert, but the songs — with projected words on the screen encouraging singing participation — were rousing Christian tunes with soulful refrains and positive messages about human reaction to God’s love and mercy. A sea of clapping hands accompanied the lyrics of: “Come and see what he has done for us; tell the world of his great love.” Groups rocked and rolled, hugged and shouted, all in the name of Jesus.After a while, the music calmed and it was time to prepare for Mass. “It’s time to get in the presence of our Lord,” said Lenahan. The once raucous crowds bowed their heads and with silence, mainly closed their eyes and breathed deeply.From the back of the auditorium the procession began, with Archbishop Broglio followed by Archbishop Gomez down the steps to the stage.“I hope you had a good day,” Archbishop Gomez told the youth in his homily. “I think it’s wonderful that we can come together for holy Mass. There’s no better way to finish your day with the Lord.”{gallery width=100 height=100}gallery/2013/1108/lifeteen/{/gallery}

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