Teens unite in faith and fun at Frassati Fest Print
Written by Kevin Wondrash, Catholic Herald Staff   
Thursday, Feb. 12, 2015 -- 12:00 AM
Frassati Fest 2015
Frassati Fest emcees Scott Helstad and Theresa Utter moderate a game where teens and chaperones use mobile devices to find Bible verses. To view or purchase photos, go to madisoncatholicherald.smugmug.com
(Catholic Herald photo/Kevin Wondrash)

WISCONSIN DELLS -- "I've never known anyone who’s gone to Frassati Fest and hasn't had a good time."

That’s how youth minister Andy Schindhelm from Blessed Trinity Parish in Lodi and Dane sums up the "coolest weekend around for Catholic High School students in the Diocese of Madison."

Or, as he also put it, "waterparks and Jesus," for the more than 300 teens who took park in this year's event.

Frassati Fest is an annual weekend for teens at Kalahari Resorts and Conventions in Wisconsin Dells that provides a chance for inspiring catechesis, prayer, good conversation, and an opportunity for teens to dive deeper into the beauty of the Catholic faith with hundreds of their peers.

It is named after Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati -- an Italian man who died in 1925 at age 24 after contracting polio from serving the poor.

He was "super faithful, had a lot of common interests, shared the faith with his friends, and was devoted to serving those in need," said Lindsay Becher, coordinator of youth and young adult ministry for the Diocese of Madison.

The weekend included keynote speakers and breakout sessions; opportunities for Eucharistic Adoration, confession, and Mass; and plenty of fun with games, group activities, and waterpark time.

"It may be a Church function, but it’s fun," said freshman Jonathan Meinholz from Blessed Trinity Parish.

Speakers and sessions

Sophomore Cassie Hellenbrand, also from Blessed Trinity Parish, calls listening to the keynote speakers "one of my favorite things to do here."

Speakers included Pete Burds, a national speaker, along with his wife, Emily.

Other speakers included members of the Camp Gray staff, such as program director Shane Reinbold, who gave his first-ever Frassati Fest talk to the teens on why God loves them.

Going off the song lyric "Jesus loves me, this I know. For the Bible tells me so," he used biblical examples of God’s love, from Noah to Moses to the Nativity.

"God came down to be one of us, simply to show us that he loves us and that we love him in such a pure way," he said.

He equated receiving God’s love to trying to interact with a celebrity on social media, having them respond, and then longing for that feeling again -- God is always responding

"He didn’t just tweet for you, he died for you!" exclaimed Reinbold.

One breakout session separated the boys and the girls.

The boys' session was led by Pete Burds and Doug Ulaszek, youth minister at St. Christopher Parish in Verona. Their talk was on "manly things," bookended with the song "Lord, I Need You" led by Burds and sung by every man -- young and old -- in the room.

Burds and Ulaszek attempted to define what a "man" is for the teens and how they can live as one.

Burds encouraged the teens to think of a man they look up to in their life most and why. "What is it about them that is so compelling? What is it about them that says I want to be a man like that?" asked Burds.

Burds said being a man is all about living "for something greater than yourself" and there is no greater example than Jesus on the cross.

Faith and fun

Many of the teens were looking forward to Eucharistic Adoration, which was set to take place Saturday evening.

"With [around] 300 kids, it's going to be pretty tight, but pretty cool to see that many teens getting together just for God," said sophomore Kelsey Eyre from Blessed Trinity.

Bishop Robert C. Morlino of Madison celebrated Mass on Sunday morning for those attending Frassati Fest.

Some of the faith-growing came through fun activities.

One morning, the teens were treated to a "live" installment of Freshly Brewed, the podcast for youth in the Diocese of Madison.

The three hosts, Becher, Chris "Topher" Aderhold, and Sara Zeman answered "tweeted-in" questions from the audience such as: "Who is your favorite saint?"; "What has been the most exciting part about being Catholic?"; and "If you were a cheese, what cheese would you be, and why would you be that cheese?"

Later in the morning, the teens, each assigned a different color to wear, competed in a "color war."

Six different teams competed in a water balloon toss, balloon popping game, "Pete Says" ("Simon Says" led by Burds), and a Bible speed challenge -- teens and leaders looking up Bible verses on their mobile devices, along with other games.

The energetic and spirited "blue" team was declared the winner, made up of a few different parishes.

Check out Frassati Fest

As is the case every year, the teens who attend Frassati Fest recommend all teens come check it out.

"You can meet a whole bunch of new people that are just like you and your friends. You know that next year they'll probably be here too. So you can see them again," said Eyre.

"It's really fun," said freshman Jack Gundeck from Blessed Trinity. "You already know some of these people from school. You get to hang out with them over the weekend even more and meet new people and broaden your relationship with your old friends that you came with."

In what might be the best selling point of all, according to Hellenbrand: "Everybody’s always in a good mood and they're always smiling and laughing and always happy."

"You won’t really know what it is until you come," said Eyre. "So don't shut it out before you know what it is. And, it will be the best weekend of your life."

For more on Frassati Fest and other activities for youth in the Diocese of Madison, go to madisoncatholicyouth.com


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