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Catholic Sentinel | Portland, OR Wednesday, September 28, 2016

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7/14/2014 3:39:00 PM
Youth for Christ revival draws faith-filled teens to Portland
Chloe Tanega speaks at the conference Saturday.
Chloe Tanega speaks at the conference Saturday.

Catholic teens and young adults gathered at Portland State University this weekend for the Couples for Christ Youth conference. To bass-heavy beats, the young people cheered loudly and waved their arms, as their peers stood onstage to share personal stories about how they keep Jesus alive in their service and themselves.

Though the Oregon chapter is smaller than others in the region, leaders picked Portland to host the 20th national conference.

Among the visitors was Ram Bernardo, a 17-year-old from Silver Springs, Md. His words were met with loud applause as he shared his plans to enter the priesthood, a turn of events he said never would have happened if he hadn’t joined Couples for Christ.

“I would have just been a laid-back Catholic who just goes to Mass on Sundays,” he said. “I wouldn’t be here, living the faith every day.”

Couples for Christ-Youth aims to help young people learn about God and their faith, and gather in fellowship in an energetic, fun environment. The ministry is part of Couples for Christ, an international Catholic lay organization based in the Philippines with a presence in 106 countries.

According to Eric Villanueva, Couples for Christ-Youth’s national director, the organization’s gatherings, like the Revival in Portland, help young people discern whether they are called to marriage, priesthood, or another path. Father Cary Reniva, a priest of the Archdiocese of Portland who spoke at the conference, was heavily involved with the group during his teen years. He attributes the organization with helping deepen his vocation to the priesthood.

Gilbert and Maryann Gaviola, chairpersons for the organization’s Oregon chapter, were the lead coordinators of the Revival. They had a team of parent volunteers and chaperones who helped with everything from first aid to catering lunch for the nearly 600 attendees. Maryann said she hoped the weekend inspired young attendees to speak up about their faith. She hopes the teens made new friends and took home useful information to share with their families and communities.

The organization is run entirely by volunteers.

Some of the presentation topics included “Witnessing in the Digital Age,” and “Saint in the City,” a prayer workshop led by Father Angelo Te, pastor of Ascension Parish. Fathers Francisco Bringuela and Tim Mockaitis celebrated Masses on Friday and Saturday. Auxiliary Bishop Peter Smith celebrated Mass on Sunday.

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