After waiting for an entire year, the CFCI Youth were blessed to participate in the Regional Youth Conference (RYC) 2017 which was held from the 27th to 29th October, 2017. And though it was a 3 day conference, for us participants those 3 days went by so quickly that it seemed like just a couple of hours. Yes, it was that fun!
This year’s Regional Youth Conference was special in more ways than one. Firstly, it was held at Hotel Orion, in Porvorim. While we all missed King’s School in Margao where the past RYC’s have been held nobody complained about the comfortable beds and air conditioned rooms we were accommodated in.
Secondly, around 200 youth from as far as Mangalore and Mumbai as well as Porvorim, Panjim, Siolim and Margao showed up excited as ever for an entire conference all about ‘The One’ behind the scenes – The Holy Spirit!
Power Up 2017 was based on Romans 8:14,
“For those who are led by the Holy Spirit shall be called the sons and daughters of God.”
And I daresay, many of us may have found a new friend in Him!
We were first greeted by Nikita Devidas who welcomed us and allotted our rooms to us. After we had registered ourselves for the venue competitions we all gathered for a scrumptious breakfast at the cafeteria. As we entered the hall and made ourselves comfortable, the band First Aid had already created a divine atmosphere by playing worship music.
Our host for the next three days was the ever joyous and energetic Elvis Dias. Hansen (CFCI Youth, Mangalore) led us through our first Praise and Worship at the Conference.
Our first session soon followed, “A Heart That Longs for Us” given by Joshua Cordeiro. We were reminded of God’s everlasting love for us as His children. This session opened our eyes to the many lies Satan tries to feed us to make us forget the merciful love God has for us. Each of these lies were enacted through short plays that were funny and really drove home the message. We tackled each of these lies with truths supported by Scripture.
We also looked into the story of the Prodigal Son – one which we’ve heard over and over again, but this time in a new light which made us understand just how vast and unimaginable God’s love is for us even though we may act as the “Prodigal Son” to Him.
We were then put into groups under a group leader and we met for discussions after every session. After our group discussion we had lunch which was followed by praying the Divine Mercy Rosary and then Zeus Fernandes (CFCI Youth, Goa) led us through a time of Praise & Worship.
For the next session “Sanctified by the Spirit” we were divided into groups and each group had to come up with a short performance about one of the 7 Gifts of the Holy Spirit. Backed with an explanation given by Reuben Carvalho, this session made it so much easier to understand the 7 gifts we have all been given – and in case you’re wondering why you don’t have it, you do! You just haven’t opened the wrapping yet!
Soon after that we participated in the Holy Eucharist.
That evening right after dinner, the delegates participated in ‘Lights, Camera, Action’ wherein after days of practicing we were all in for an entertaining evening of unconventional Bible plays. It was so much fun to watch all the other plays and even more fun to participate in as the stories we’ve all grown up with unfold in new, interesting and even punny ways!
The second day began at 7:30 am with Mass, followed by breakfast and then Praise and Worship led by Jokshith (CFCI Youth, Mangalore).
The first session for the day, ‘Moving in the Spirit’ was given by Biron D’Souza. Through this session, we realized that Jesus’ mission which he began 2000 years ago is our mission today – to spread the Gospel and make disciples of all peoples. And we’re not alone here; the Holy Spirit equips us with gifts that accompany our mission with signs and wonders. We learnt about the various gifts, broadly categorized as Word Gifts, Power gifts, Revelation gifts and Other Service gifts. This talk was very encouraging and uplifting to know that we too, just as we are, can bring people to accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior by the power of the Holy Spirit through these gifts. We also saw the various obstacles we may face in receiving these gifts and the antidotes to fight them!
Soon after we had a short briefing by Joshua Cordeiro on Reconciliation. We were encouraged to make amends, forgive and fix relationships that required to be mended. This gave us an opportunity we may have either never had before or been too afraid to reconcile with those who have hurt us or whom we may have hurt. This prepared us well for a meaningful Confession and uplifting Eucharistic Adoration and the pray over which soon followed wherein the GD heads prayed over each member of their group.
After lunch we had our first workshop during which Biron spoke to us about The Gift of Tongues. We had a short Praise and Worship after this and everybody gathered in the hall. Those who had the gift of Tongues were our prayer warriors. They prayed for those of us who didn’t, so that we too may receive the gift. And many of us, myself included, did!
Next in line were the venue competitions. It was busy and exciting times as the youth were seen participating in the many different competitions.
For the next workshop the youth were divided into two groups – while one group attended the workshop on Healing given by Ehrlson de Sousa the other took part in the workshop on Prophecy given by Amulya Castelino. After each of these workshops we were given time for prayer to exercise the gifts we just learned about.
Then came dinner and the fete that was held on the terrace. Our excitement scaled new heights. There were many games to play including Bible Housie, Tang Pong and there even was a face painting booth! The theme for the night was Wear Your Personality and it was so much fun guessing everyone’s costumes, learning new things about each other and taking pictures at the photo booth.
Our 3rd and final day at RYC began with mass at 7:30 are and Praise and Worship led by Brian (CFCI Youth, Mumbai).
After that the youth answered a questionnaire that assessed the various gifts that we may have such as Pastoring, Teaching, Interceding and Leading Praise. According to the result of the questionnaire we then had to attend a session on these gifts. The session on the Gift of Teaching was given by Erushka de Sousa, on the gift of Pastoring by Elvis Dias, on the Gift of Interceding by Chriselle Gomes and the session on the Gift of Leading Praise by Levin Gomes. Through these sessions each of us realized that we too can contribute in our own way to the building of God’s kingdom and that we all have a role to play in our CFCI community.
Our final session saw a talk show hosted by Tara Saldanha, “Ambassadors of Christ” which featured Silverio Souza and Vernon Fernandes sharing how they patched up their differences and reconciled with each other thus being true ambassadors of Christ and helping build His kingdom.
After lunch we had the prize distribution ceremony wherein we were awarded prizes for all the competitions we won during the course of the Conference. The Conference then came to a close with the much awaited Praise Fest led by Ransley Gonsalves (CFCI Youth, Panjim).
Power Up 2017 was an amazing experience for each and every one of us as was clearly evident through our joyous faces and the many sharings given by the youth all through the 3 days.
The choir for the Masses really led us in spirit with their soulful singing and the Gregorian music helped make the Eucharist even more meaningful.
The group discussions gave us a deeper understanding about all that we learnt through the sessions and workshops and about ourselves.
Through this fun, faith-filled conference, we were reminded of the amazing friend we have in the Holy Spirit who shakes us up, sets us on fire, pushes us forward and powers us up to do things we never thought we could do!
Spirit of God, breathe life into me!
Spirit of God, come lift me up!
Spirit of God, lead and guide me!
Power up, power up, power up… Power me up!