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Music Playing: "Everybody Sing Alleluia" by Tony Melendez

Event Reviews

St. Martins Concert for Life
 
The night before the march, Tony Melendez, Steve Angrisano, and the Toe Jam Band performed their lively program for a group of about 470 youth at Gaithersburg high school, roughly 2% of the amount of people going to the Rally the following day.  This vastly more personal event was filled with only the most dynamic members of the Catholic Church's future, the most animated youth in the D.C. metro area, and from all over the country (Texas, Seattle, Michigan, Florida?, were all represented).  The mass was simaltaneously touching and comical due to the ardent personality of the passionate celebrant.  The concert following was much more amazing, rich with cheers, testimonies, music, and all the vestiges of a real rock concert - jumping, dancing, shouting, beachballs and footballs being thrown around, a dimmer ambience, and everything you can imagine to exemplify the spirited heart of the Church.  Completely amazing, even from the point of view of this slightly detached observer present on his own.
 
Rally/March for Life
 
Amazing music, liveliness and prayer coupled with not having to kneel during the Eucharistic Prayer and being with 25,000 other Catholic youth makes for quite a breathtaking event.  Although the rally before the Mass was much more vibrant, invigorating, and exciting, the mass was much more enjoyable than most sans the five+ minute entrance of bishops, priests and seminarians.  Tony Melendez, Steve Angrisano, and the various members of the Toe Jam Band performed amazingly in the moving ceremony, and Theodore Cardinal McCarrick said a wonderful mass, with his Vocations minister giving a short and sweet homily.  All in all, the multilingual rally and Mass were astounding, especially with the amount of people in the full to capacity Verizon Center.
 
The rain graciously waited for the actual march to conclude before pouring, and there seemed to be blissfully less extremists around this year.  The Lady of Guadalupe led the 33rd annual March for Life from the mall to the supreme court building with marchers praying and cheering for something worth fighting for.  Vita!
 
Encounter '05 (@ Georgetown University, EGL Inc., July 9th -14th, $300)
 
Billeted as a life-changing experience, this camp drew me due to its ministerical nature - going to school in D.C. and passing the homeless every day, I felt a need to serve the WMA needy, and saw the service camp Encounter the Gospel of Life as a perfect vehicle to do so.  However, I did not want to change my life, nor did I believe the camp would.  But the sheer caring of the camp's 380 youth changed my mind, as did the wonderful performances of the experienced "key-note" leaders.  Not only was an awareness of others, of God, and of myself raised, but my self-esteem was raised in that in our "small groups" we served in, every person was very important, and loved, by every other person.  There were, surprisingly, no enemies.  The mini retreat sessions were done very well, and you could really see how we are greater than the some of our parts - although all those in my small group, including the two young adult leaders, were unsure and inexperienced to some degree, together we helped out others amazingly and became something greater.
 
These profound relationships were not the only life-changing part of camp, nor was the service.  Frequent concerts and surprisingly entertaining talks made me think about things, and it worked.  Although still myself, I was changed.  I had gained a higher understanding while losing nothing.  The reconciliation and healing session of six stations one night accomplished the reciprocal - I gained nothing bad, but lost anything holding me back from who I wanted to and was meant to be, at least for a while.  I was inspired enough to write a page of thoughts, talk out my theological unsurities with a leader who, instead of preaching to me, examined them with me, and write a song about my "transformation" (its not so good though).  Although you probably can't see yourself doing any of these things (I sure couldn't), you may end up doing some of the same if you come to camp, although rest assured, there will be no pressure on you to do so besides your own spiritual motivation.  Despite the lack of pressure to engage in these activities, almost all campers did, and most were moved to near silence, or even tears of joy, by the last night of the week.
 
All in all, Encounter '05 was probably one of the most profound experiences of my entire life, although not in a startling, "rude," way, but in the subtle little ways of the heart.  Come out and find out, July 9th to 14th.  Contact Mrs. Tull for details.

Photo Album
Rally and Mass for Life

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Tony Melendez, Armless Guitarist

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Steve Angrisano, World-Renowned Activist

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Full-to-Capacity, Verizon Center

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Tony, Steve, and the Choir

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Members of the Toe Jam Band

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Archbishop Theodore Cardinal McCarrick, Main Celebrant

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