By Mark Haney
The Catholic Times
LANSING — The rumble of hundreds of simultaneous conversations arose from an amoeba of young people, filling every empty space in the Lansing Center.
An adult woman 10 feet away leaned in toward her companion, straining to catch what the other woman was saying.
“Darius,” a louder voice shouted as a young black man emerged from the huddled young people, wearing an outrageous pair of red sunglasses that clearly were not his. A tall white teen chased him in vain through the crowd, always arriving a split second too late.
“Darius,” he shouted again, raising a giggle from another young black who was watching the chase with obvious glee.
The rest of the teens talked on, unabated and apparently uninterested in the game of chase going on around and through them. They talked in small groups that shifted and changed as people joined a conversation and others moved on to talk to someone else.
They all stood outside the doors of the main arena. They weren’t waiting for a concert. They weren’t waiting for a comedian. They weren’t waiting to see a play or a musical or a movie.
They were waiting to go to Mass.
The young people, and their youth ministers and other adults, had gathered Sunday, Nov. 7, at the Lansing Center for this year’s Jamboree, a one-day event geared directly at high school-aged Catholics. They spent the day listening to the music and ministry of Steve Agrisano, a Highland, Colo.-based Catholic speaker and singer. They were here for the breakout sessions with people like diocesan director of multicultural evangelization Ron Landfair, Jeff Corder of St. Gerard Parish in Lansing, John Drake of Queen of the Miraculous Parish in Jackson, Mary Lou Hahn-Setta of St. Mary Parish in Chelsea, Jacki Popadich of Holy Redeemer parish in Burton and John Roty of Queen of the Miraculous Medal Parish on such topics as “Jocks for Jesus,” “Music Made in Heaven,” Prayer Life on the Go,” “I Heard God’s Call: How Will I Answer?’ with a special presentation, “What Can a First Century Man Teach US About Leading in the 21ast Century World?’ by Sr. Barbara Matievich, O.P., parish life coordinator at St. Helen Church in St. Helen, the Diocese of Gaylord.
The teens also were here for the concert and dance by Noelle Garcia’s band, The Alpha and Omegatrons, which also warmed up the gathering before the Jamboree officially began.
And they were here for the annual Mass with Bishop Earl Boyea.
In between all of that they shared lunch together and a dinner after the Mass.
“It is nice,’ said one teen from Charlotte St. Mary Parish. “I think it was good.”
“I’m still waiting to see what is in store for the rest of the day,” one girl from Charlotte St. Mary Parish said. “I’m waiting to see that ninja.”
A white-clad ninja was featured in the video shown at the start of the Jamboree outlining the rules — no cell phones, no leaving the Lansing Center, no revealing clothing, no pairing up between the sexes, etc. The girl wanted to take the mask off the ninja. She’d been told by Caleb Roty, a member of the Jamboree team, that the ninja was at the event.
Roty is the son of one of the presenters and a Jamboree veteran. His father served for many years in one capacity or another at previous Jamborees and, with his son, was part of this year’s team.
“I have been to 18 Jamborees,” he said. “I’m only 17; I came to one when I was not yet a year old.”
He served on the team with teens Rachel Bonney, Theresa Bosman, Becky Golub, Jordan Harvey, Jodi Kaylee Leslie, Kirk Mersino, Andrea Parker, Hillary Post, Alex Price, James VanSteel and Elijah Wilson and adults Theresa Chartier, Corder, Linda Crocket, Teresa Hurd, Chris Mumby, Nancy Poff, Laura Rector, Beth Shaw, Lorenzo Villegas, Martha Williams and Jack Armstrong.
Armstrong and his wife, Paty, are honored each year because their names are on the Friend of Youth Award presented at each year’s Jamboree. This year’s honor went to Poff, who is the director of religious education at Resurrection Parish in Lansing and both a youth minister and music teacher at St. Joseph School in St. Johns.