The Encuentro Juvenil Catolico (Catholic Youth Encounter) sold out in less than a month. It is the only event in the Archdiocese of Denver which caters specifically to Hispanic Catholic youth and youth groups.
Capuchin Fr. Joseph Elder, who works with a large youth group at Annunciation Parish in Denver, was involved in planning the event, which was sponsored by Centro San Juan Diego and the Office of Hispanic Youth Ministry.
Over 500 teens showed up for the Encounter, which was an all-day event hosted by Denver University on March 7. The theme of the event was “Despised,” from St. Paul’s letter to Timothy: "Let no one despise your youth" (1 Tim. 4:12).
The event began with praise and worship at 9 AM and followed with a talk by Elias Moo. After a brief break in the morning, youth broke up to hear talks geared to young men and women. Eucharistic adoration and confession were available throughout the day.
Fr. Joseph celebrated the evening Mass and spoke on the reality of today’s youth being despised, both by their culture and often in their own hearts. The story of the women at the well reminds us, said Fr. Joseph, that though our culture and our hearts may often condemn us, God never condemns us. His love is inviting us to greatness.
In addition to diocesan priests, numerous Capuchin friars were on hand throughout the day to hear confessions, including: Fr. Christopher Popravak, Fr. Francisco Ramirez, and Fr. Sojan Parapilly. A number of the brothers in temporary vows stopped by throughout the day to encourage the event.
In the evening, two youth - one from the Capuchin youth group at Annunciation - gave powerful testimonies on the power of God's mercy and love at work in their lives.
The event concluded with a powerful hour of Eucharistic adoration in the main auditorium. Fr. Joseph led the celebration and processed throughout the crowd carrying the Blessed Sacrament and blessing youth who knelt in adoration before the Lord.
To learn more about Fr. Joseph's ministry with the youth at Annunciation Parish, visit their website: www.adjdenver.com