They say that it takes a village to raise a child, and I think there’s some truth in that. But I can tell you for sure that it does take quite a crew of dedicated volunteers to put on a Steubenville youth conference!
Last weekend’s youth conference was staffed by 108 volunteers – and there are 112 volunteers staffing this weekend! When you consider that each volunteer is here in Springfield from at least 10 am Friday until at least 1 pm on Sunday, that means that over 6800 volunteer hours are put in each summer by amazing people devoted to making our conferences a positive experience for every teen and every adult who attends. And I couldn’t even begin to calculate how much time and energy and prayer that staff members of the Office of Youth Ministry and Franciscan University of Steubenville devote to these amazing events!
Every volunteer has his or her own story as to what brought them here, and you can read some of those stories here – but I can tell you with confident assurance that the two most significant reasons that drive our volunteers to drive to Springfield, MO to serve at this conference are their love for Jesus and their love for His kids.
And so, staff members and volunteers begin every conference with Mass, because the Eucharist is “the source and summit of the Christian life” and therefore the source of all of our strength.
Our presider today was Bishop Edward Rice, who grew up in St. Louis and who now serves here in the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau where we host our conferences. After we all heard the proclamation of the Word of God, Bishop Rice began his homily by thanking everyone who is volunteering.
He then went on to share with us that the entire month of July is dedicated to the Precious Blood of Jesus. Bishop Rice chose to offer the Votive Mass of the Precious Blood of Jesus for all of us here at the conference this weekend, in light of the strong Eucharistic symbolism in our readings for today.
He reminded us that St. Thomas Aquinas said that “just one drop of the Precious Blood of Jesus is enough to save the whole world”. As if that is not enough, Jesus poured out every single drop of His Blood for you…and for me…and for everyone who will be here this weekend.
Please keep our faithful volunteers in your prayers this weekend. And more importantly, please pray for the teens who will be arriving shortly!
(and I’d encourage you to listen to Bishop Rice’s homily in its entirety by clicking on the audio player at the top of this page, since his words are so much better than any summary I could write)