PORTLAND — Despite temperatures in the mid-20s and a freezing drizzle, nearly 200 teenagers and accompanying adults processed through the city of Portland on April 15, in a public display of their faith, according to a news release from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland.

The procession began at the Holiday Inn by the Bay on Spring Street, where the teenagers had been gathered since Friday for the annual youth convention.

The teens walked down the center of Middle Street, through the city’s popular Old Port, then up Pearl Street by city hall and finally to the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception for a Mass celebrated by Bishop Robert P. Deeley.

The teens carried a picture of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, a banner displaying the convention’s theme, which was “Believe,” and banners or flags representing their home parishes. As they processed, they prayed and sang hymns, such as “Ave Maria” and “Salve Regina.”

During the Mass at the cathedral, the bishop praised the youth for participating in the procession saying it allowed “more people to get to witness what I have seen when I spend time with you.”

The bishop noted that this is a year in which the church is especially focusing on young people. Pope Francis, bishops and dioceses around the world have been preparing for an International Synod of Bishops, to be held in October, which will be devoted to young people in the Catholic Church. The results of a survey of Maine young people conducted by the diocese will be included in the data considered for the synod.

“Pope Francis places much trust in the mission he gives to young people like you. He believes that there is a mission that you are able to carry out in the world. In your time together this weekend, I think you have deepened your appreciation of what believing means and what a difference it makes to the way you live,” the bishop said, according to the release. “You should not be surprised that Pope Francis places great faith in you. From its beginnings, the church has been blessed with the presence of young people alive in faith and eager to serve the Lord Jesus.”

The annual Catholic Youth Convention was an opportunity for high school-aged teenagers from around the state to gather to celebrate their faith. The convention featured speakers, workshops, Masses, prayer, the sacrament of reconciliation, eucharistic adoration, and much more.

This year’s keynote addresses were presented by Michael Patin, an inspirational speaker from Louisiana, who has worked in ministry for more than 30 years and formerly worked as a high school teacher.

Patin told the teens that God doesn’t only call those who are the best athletes or the brightest; he calls everyone.

The youths attending the convention came from all parts of Maine from Aroostook County to York County.

The event is sponsored by the diocese’s Office of Lifelong Faith Formation, but teenagers who serve on the Catholic Youth Leadership Team played a key role in planning and running it.

They included emcee Danielle Nadeau, who is from St. John Vianney Parish in Fort Kent. She said the convention gives teenagers, who often have very busy lives, an opportunity to stop and concentrate on their faith.

Along with the keynote addresses, the convention featured a series of workshops offered by clergy and laypeople, including “Jesus is Our Rock, That’s How We Roll,” presented by the Rev. Brad Morin, parochial vicar of Good Shepherd Parish in Biddeford; “Break Free,” offered by the Rev. Innocent Okozi, SMA, a parochial vicar of St. Bartholomew Parish in Cape Elizabeth, St. John and Holy Cross Parish in South Portland, and St. Maximilian Kolbe Parish in Scarborough; and “Taking it to the Streets,” presented by Carolyn Houston from Holy Spirit Parish, according to the release.

During the Mass on Sunday, the bishop blessed and installed new members of the Catholic Youth Leadership Team, as well as a new adult leader.

The new CYLT members are Isabelle Castonguay from St. Rose of Lima Parish in Jay, Mary Daniels from the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Portland, Brendan Fedrizzi from St. Matthew Parish in Limerick, Israel Gombojav from Corpus Christi Parish in Waterville, Isabella Gould from St. Paul the Apostle Parish in Bangor, Jacob Guillemette from St. Thérèse of Lisieux Parish in Sanford, Jenna Roane from All Saints Parish in Brunswick, Christina Roy from St. Michael Parish in Augusta, Matthew Sawiciki from Prince of Peace Parish in Lewiston, and Thomas Smith from St. Agnes Parish in Pittsfield. Bob Guillemette from St. Thérèse is the new adult leader, according to the release.

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