Going 'To the Heights' with Frassati Fest Print
Thursday, Feb. 28, 2013 -- 9:46 AM

The youth leadership team for the 2013 Frassati Fest gather for a photo. (Photo by Lindsay Becher)“Verso l’alto!”

It was a phrase heard quite often around Chula Vista resort this past February 1 to 3. In English, it means “To the Heights,” and was a favorite saying of Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati, the patron of the newly named Diocesan High School Rally, Frassati Fest. The phrase speaks to different people in different ways, but is a universal call for each and every one of us to strive for greatness, ultimately leading us to the greatest height: heaven and eternal life.

This year’s Frassati Fest challenged us to do just that: strive for holiness. As I look back on this incredible weekend of community, faith, prayer, and fun, I would like to share a few things I learned in helping us achieve this goal.

1. Never feed freshman boys pizza and soda after midnight — especially if you want to get to bed before 3am. I must say, I learned this one the hard way. Not only does it make for tired and cranky youth ministers, but tired and cranky kids when you wake them up at 8am. I still haven’t decided if it’s easier to get them up or get them to sleep. . .

2. Confession truly is the Sacrament of the New Evangelization — for the past several years, my own personal experience at Frassati Fest has been highlighted by receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation with a couple hundred other people. Each year, I am astounded by the line of high school teens waiting patiently, quietly, and prayerfully to receive this great grace from Jesus Christ. This year over 230 teens from around the Diocese attended Frassati Fest — I am confident that I can count those who didn’t go to Confession on one hand. This reality brings to mind one emotion - gratitude: especially to the 7 priests from our Diocese who heard Confessions for over 2 hours in order to get everyone through the line; also for our teens, who sat faithfully in Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament during the same time frame; most importantly for the Holy Spirit, who clearly had entered the hearts of so many young people that night. I heard personally of several young people who made their first Confession since their First Confession that night - a truly amazing and grace-filled fact, one that gives me great hope for the future of our Church and our young people.

3. V-neck T-shirts are not that bad — and are even quite good if they have “Verso l’Alto!” written in Bl. Pier Giorgio’s handwriting on the front. Besides, showing some chest hair through your shirt is manly, right?

Frassati Fest 2013

• Theme: “AGAPE — Love through the fight”

• Keynote speaker: Jon Pressimone

• 20+ parishes represented

• 270 people

• Chula Vista Resort in Wisconsin Dells

4. To love someone, especially our young people, requires a fight — this final realization is perhaps the most important. Let’s face it — our culture leaves much to be desired in the area of holiness. Little to nothing of what we find in the main stream media, on TV, in our songs, or in magazines and books implores us to strive for the greatness we were created for. We know this and recognize this, especially those of us who remember TV before Jersey Shore and GoDaddy Superbowl commercials. The frightening thing is that our youth have never known a world any different. They have literally grown up with these images and ideas shoved in their faces since the day they were born. This means that if we are truly concerned with their souls, their salvation, and introducing them to a life lived for Jesus Christ, we must fight for it! This is true for people of all ages in our world, but especially for young people. That fight might require much of us, even our entire lives. But what life could be better lived?

5. There is Hope — Young people know that there is something tragically wrong with our world today. They know that there is more to life than what they have seen on the internet and read in 50 Shades of Grey. But many do not know what this greater, indefinable feeling is. It is holiness. It is Jesus Christ. And as members of His body, we have a calling — rather, a responsibility — to share this love and message with our young people. So, ready yourself, because it is no easy task. It is a war zone out there; prepare accordingly.

Verso l’Alto! — To close, I cannot think of anything better than the words of our Holy Father, who shared the following when speaking to the world’s youth: “Keeping his gaze fixed on eternal life, Blessed Pier Giorgio . . . said ‘I want to live and not simply exist!’ . . . on a photograph he wrote ‘Verso l’Alto,’ alluding to Christian perfection, but also to eternal life

. . . Dear young friends . . . we are called to eternity. God has created us to be with Him, forever.”

To the Heights!

Doug Ulaszek is a first-year Youth Minister in Cross Plains. He brought a group of nearly 50 young people to this year’s Frassati Fest.


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