||Frassati Fest participants Oliver Braaten, in gold, and Alan Zarzycki, in blue, pray at the annual weekend for teens held at Kalahari Resorts and Conventions in Wisconsin Dells. To view or purchase photos, go to www.madisoncatholicherald.smugmug.com (Catholic Herald photo/Kevin Wondrash)
WISCONSIN DELLS -- “Lord, please help us all to have a great day. Open to the Lord, open to making new friends, and just open to have some fun.”
That Saturday morning prayer sums up the goals leaders and teens had for the annual Frassati Fest.
The yearly diocesan youth gathering took place February 3 to 5 at Kalahari Resorts and Conventions in Wisconsin Dells.
Frassati Fest is called the “coolest weekend around for Catholic high school students in the Diocese of Madison.”
This year’s theme was “RISE”.
The goal was for everyone to RISE from the routine of every day to embrace a weekend of fun and adventure, to RISE up out of our fear and create authentic friendships with other Catholic teens, and to ultimately have the chance to RISE to the joy and happiness found in a relationship with Jesus Christ while learning about the beauty of the faith.
More than 300 high school aged teens from about 20 parishes in the diocese attended Frassati Fest.
The fun starts
The teens and their parish leaders arrived at the Kalahari Friday evening.
Part of that night’s activities included a session with keynote speakers Lauren Wright and Nic Frank, youth ministry leaders from St. Bridget Parish in Rockford, Ill.
Following the keynotes, some parish groups set aside time for socializing, including a dance party.
This was a chance for teens to make new friends from other parishes, or just go “ham,” as 16-year-old Jayda Lochner said.
Lochner, who came with the group from St. Joseph in Baraboo, said going “ham” is “dancing with no limits.”
Many teens also said they went “ham” on Friday night.
They also said they made some new friends.
“I really like how everyone is so welcoming and you can just go up to somebody and talk to them and they’ll start a conversation with you,” said Jenny Herrera, also with the Baraboo group.
Lochner and Herrera’s friend, 15-year-old Marissa Ott, invited them both to Frassati Fest after she attended last year’s event. She said she really enjoyed it and was looking forward to “the whole experience.”
Growing in faith
The whole experience would become clearer come Saturday.
The morning began with breakfast and a crowd-pleasing game of Family Feud, hosted by Frassati Fest team member and alum Jack Schwartz from Waunakee.
The teams were divided into men versus women and were led by Frank and Wright.
The questions included: name a food item served in most high school cafeterias; besides throwing them away, name something you can do with old newspapers; and name one way you can tell someone is a Wisconsinite.
The women’s team dominated the men in a decisive shutout effort.
Following the morning activities, the women and men broke up into breakout sessions, led by Wright and Frank respectively.
Frank told the young men, “This [session] is going to be whatever you make it.”
“There’s going to be some praying and some discussion and some interaction,” he added.
Frank told the teens there is a “manhood shortage” in America.
“If we don’t tackle it now, there’s not going to be another time to address the issue . . . your manhood, who you are called to be, is more about who you are, than what you do . . . We have to bring true masculinity into a world that is starving for it.”
Frank said this masculinity is being ready to lead, having a purpose, and knowing who you really are.
Later, the teens had a chance to pair up with a partner and discuss and pray over topics such as prayer, family, brotherhood, living out the faith, and even dealing with pornography.
In a powerful display of faith, the young men later prayed as a group, many of them mentioning aloud intentions everyone could pray for together.
The rest of the fest
The rest of the weekend continued with opportunities for Confession as well as Eucharistic Adoration and Benediction.
There were also service project opportunities and panel discussions with the speakers and high school senior Frassati Fest alumni.
Cody Miller, 15, attended his first Frassati Fest this year with the group from St. Bernard Parish in Middleton.
“I get to be on a retreat about God and I’m going to be with my friends,” Miller said. “I’m having a lot of fun with it so far.”
August Braaten, 14, also with the St. Bernard group, said he enjoyed “being able to meet so many new people and seeing old friends. That’s the greatest part of coming to Frassati Fest.”
There were many “meet and greet” games for the teens to break out of their comfort zones and meet others.
They could also gather in the photo booth with their friends and fun props for all their social media needs.
If new profile pictures and snaps weren’t enough, there was also merchandise available in the form of stickers, temporary tattoos, and coffee mugs for Freshly Brewed -- the Madison Catholic youth podcast and media experience.
Bishop celebrates Mass
Frassati Fest neared its conclusion on Super Bowl Sunday with Mass, celebrated by Bishop Robert C. Morlino of Madison.
“You’re all more than familiar with the words of Jesus that you must be salt and you must be light,” Bishop Morlino told the teens in his homily.
“To be salt and to be light is to be a leader. Every follower of Jesus Christ in this world is a leader,” he added.
He later said,” We are called to RISE up to leadership . . . that’s how we can be salt and light.”
“But, what does it mean to RISE up to leadership?” Bishop Morlino asked.
“It means to RISE up from silence,” he said. He went on to talk about the importance of silence in the midst of all media distractions teens consume today.
“The only way any important truth can unfold is from silence,” Bishop Morlino said.
To see and hear more from this year’s Frassati Fest, go to the Freshly Brewed Media Facebook page at www.facebook.com/FreshlyBrewedMedia