Tijuana Youth Attend L.A. Religious Education Congress

By Rich Reader and David Rizo

Father Jesse, our Oblate Youth Director, took a group of 10 young people to the USCCB Religious Congress in Los Angeles this last weekend. The event draws top name speakers and a host of religious organizations and vendors. Bishop Baron delivered the keynote on the real presence. He was slated to talk about something else, but when the pew survey came out revealing that 70% of Catholics don’t believe in the real presence, he decided that he needed to speak to that issue. He traced the belief in the real presence back to the first century and the writings of people who knew the apostles. He concluded very powerfully explaining that when the priest speaks the words at the consecration, he is acting In Persona Christi, and in the same way God spoke the universe into existence, the priest speaks the words that change the Eucharist into the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus. This talk is available on Youtube.

Eduardo expressed that it is always good to experience the Church in a different country. One thing he became more aware of is the vital role of women in the Church. Being a psychologist, he attended related sessions and learned more about the importance of mindfulness; living in the here and now. He also learned more the VIRTUS program, including how to spot signs of child abuse sooner. Adriana likes how each Congress takes on the current issues like LGBTQ, immigrants, and the Pope’s call for mercy. “The Pope invites us to go beyond the 10 commandments and also focus on the Corporal Works of Mercy” recalls Adriana. From another session she was struck by the idea that you don’t have to be a bishop or pope to be a saint. We can all be saints through our everyday lives. Jesse mentioned that he was inspired to incorporate our veneration of Mary more into our various ministries. Aaron gained greater awareness for being a good youth group leader to his young 10 to 14 year olds; be faithful to the rules, get along, follow protocols, and stay in touch with the parents.

The youth attended an African mass together, remembering how enlivened it was last year. The prelude included drums and an explanation of how the drums are used to call the African people to holiness. A choir group flew out from a Boston college and sang alongside an African choir. The African priest was so joyful and expressive as he sang many parts of the mass and delivered a message on Order my Steps Lord. And yet, the mass was celebrated so devoutly and in conformity with the universal Liturgy.

This following is a scholarship application essay by Nolens, who traveled with us to the Congress mentioned above. She is very active in the youth center and is always there to help with projects and events.

My name is Nolens Mirabile Cervantes Ríos. I am 19 years old and live with my mom. She is the most important person in my life and I am very lucky to be her daughter. She will always be my role model. My mom had to work, so when I was a child i had to stay in daycare or with extended family. My mom has always helped me in everything that she can. For example, she taught me to read. I am very grateful for all the sacrifices that my mom has made to suport me. She never missed a graduation or other ceremony, even if I only had a little part.

To help with expenses I have worked in a factory and in a restaurant. I would get very tired, but would just think that my mom must have been even more tired. This last year I finished high school and it was a great experience. However, it was very difficult because my school was one and a half hours from my home. Sometimes I got out at 8 PM and was nervous about waiting for the bus. Also the expenses were very much for us.

I got accepted in the university to study industrial engineering. Psychology was my first choice, but I did not get accepted. I liked the idea that psychology was going to allow me to help people. If I can finish college, my mom will be so proud because she never had the chance to go to college.

Tijuana is where I was born and I love it. I have wonderful friends and owe them a lot. Often young people who don’t know what to do with themselves end up with the wrong people and commit crimes. I think if they just had someone to listen to them and tell them they can be so much more, they would realize they can have dreams too.

Thank you for supporting us and I hope to meet you in person. I promise that someday, I will do for others what you are doing for me. God bless you all.


Nolens Mirabile Cervantes Ríos