Teens are ‘Known’ at Frassati Fest Print
Around the Diocese
Written by Kevin Wondrash, Catholic Herald Staff   
Thursday, Feb. 21, 2019 -- 12:00 AM

frassati fest
Teens pray in front of the Blessed Sacrament during a Holy Hour at Frassati Fest at Kalahari Resorts and Conventions in Wisconsin Dells. The annual festival for teens in the Diocese of Madison took place February 1 to 3. To view or purchase photos, go to (Catholic Herald photo/Kevin Wondrash)

WISCONSIN DELLS -- More than just “Jesus and water slides,” the 2019 Frassati Fest gave teens in the Diocese of Madison a chance to be “known” by God and those faithful around them.

“Known” was the theme of this year’s festival at Kalahari Conventions and Resorts in Wisconsin Dells, which took place February 1 to 3.

The annual weekend for teens in the diocese is a chance for inspiring catechesis, prayer, time for conversation with other young people, and an opportunity for them to dive deeper into the beauty of the Catholic faith with hundreds of their peers, and yes, the water parks.

‘Who is God?’

The teens, along with parish leaders and volunteers arrived at the Kalahari on Friday evening. More than 500 teens from dozens of parishes joined in the faith and fun, this year, along with a group of “lost sheep” — individuals from parishes not coming as a group to Frassati Fest.

With the day theme of “Who is God?” Frassati Fest got underway with parishes grouping together in “big ‘small’ groups”, which would participate in activities together all weekend.

Later that night, keynote speaker Levi Rash, a missionary from FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students), spoke on “We are ‘Known’ by God.”

Following the talk was a teen testimonial along with “parish time” — teens spending time with their own parish group, talking, and growing in faith.

It was a good experience for first-time attendee John Miller, a high school freshman and member of St. Thomas Aquinas Parish in Madison.

“I like hanging out with friends. At night, it’s really fun just hanging out in the room, talking together,” Miller said.

Second-year attendee Meretta Heckman, a high school senior who is a member of Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary Parish in Sun Prairie, noted, “everyone here wants to grow in their faith deeper.”

She added that, “the keynote speakers are very real people that have gone through real struggles . . . so it all works together. Everyone struggles together and gets to know God better.”

For second-year attendee Andy Bergquist, a high school sophomore and member of Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary Parish in Sun Prairie, “It’s a lot easier to grow in your faith when you’re surrounded by other people in your faith. You don’t have all those distractions . . . that are trying to get in your way all the time. Here, you’re in an environment where you take a break from all of that.”

‘Who are we?’

Saturday’s theme was “Who are we?”

Following breakfast and continued time for socializing, the attendees went into their big small groups for games and teambuilding activities.

One of these activities was a game of blindfolded dodgeball, where two participants partnered together. One would wear a blindfold, and the other would guide them to where a soft dodgeball was and where they should attempt to throw it — preferably at a member of the opposing team.

Following those activities, the young women and men split into separate groups for breakout sessions.

The men’s session began with a testimonial from high school senior and member of Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary Parish in Sun Prairie Jacob Monforte.

Monforte shared a powerful message with his fellow young men about struggles and challenges in his life.

He emphasized, passionately, that dealing with these struggles and challenges is what makes a man, a man.

“Tell me you ain’t a man!” he boomed into the microphone, “if you decide there’s some things about yourself that you need to fix” . . . “if you can’t give yourself a once over and see the things that are broken and you call them out” . . . “if you have the humility to say I need to get help. Please help me.”

Following the breakout sessions, both the young men and women received that help during a Holy Hour with Confessions being heard by more than a dozen priests from around the Diocese of Madison.

An entire conference room at the Kalahari was filled with teens in prayer in front of the Blessed Sacrament or in line waiting for Confession — a line that required some traffic directing by some of the leaders, due to the volume of teens seeking God’s love, mercy, and forgiveness.

The faith time would soon transition into fun as water park time came next on the schedule after lunch, following the Holy Hour.

The rest of the day’s activities included panel discussions, breakout sessions, and a dance party.

‘Where are we going?’

Frassati Fest came to close on Sunday, the Lord’s Day.

Mass was celebrated by Msgr. James Bartylla, diocesan administrator.

The festival came to a close with more teen testimonials and another keynote by Rash, this one on the topic of, “Every human being is known.”

For those who want to attend Frassati Fest in the future, Bergquist called the weekend “awesome,” especially “ if you want to find God, grow in your faith with lots of other great people . . . 400 great people who are in their faith.”

For more information on Frassati Fest, go to

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