On Saturday, Jan. 13, the Diocese of Raleigh hosted the 7th annual Love My Life Rally. This youth rally is held each year in conjunction with the diocesan Mass for Life and the NC Right to Life March in downtown Raleigh.
Twelve hundred teens from around eastern North Carolina packed a heated tent on Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral campus to listen to charismatic speakers, energetic music and a message of love and life that resonated with their generation.
Bishop Luis Rafael Zarama visited the event and thanked the youth for their presence. “Each one of you is hope for the church because you bring with you the gift of who you are,” Bishop Zarama said. “The only thing I will ask of you is to celebrate who you are and give the gift of who you are to the ones that are around you.”
In addition to hearing uplifting messages of life, this event, sponsored by the diocesan Respect Life and Social Concerns office, gives Catholic teens an opportunity to come together as a community to celebrate their faith in a supportive environment. Coordinator Mary Beth Phillips said, “It’s hard when they’re living in this culture to resist being like the rest of the kids and maybe making choices that won’t lead to their happiness in the end. So, we want them to see that it’s not just them … but that it’s all the Catholics all across the diocese and everywhere.”
Beloved was the theme for this year’s event, and speakers Chris Padgett and Gabby del Rio highlighted that theme, focusing on how each teen in the room is beloved by Christ. Both speakers underscored the idea that once you understand how much God loves you, it is easier to treat others and yourself with kindness, respect and love.
Louise Batta, Nick Clemens and Anabelle Hernandez served as emcees for the event and led the room in song, prayer and enthusiastic cheers.
Clemens, who attended the very first Love My Life in the parking lot of the old Cathedral, was inspired by the turnout. “To come here and see this massive tent with over 1,000 teens on fire for their faith … it was amazing,” Clemens said.
Following the rally, teens joined the community in the cathedral for the Mass for Life. Over 1,600 people filled the pews for this first Mass for Life at Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral. Recording artist Dana Catherine sang the prelude, and Bishop Zarama was principal celebrant.
In his homily, Bishop Zarama continued the message of God’s love for us. “Jesus loves us unconditionally in the way that we are because he sees us beyond our own appearance. He sees in us the beauty of who we are," he said.
After Mass, teens were treated to lunch provided by the Knights of Columbus before heading to downtown Raleigh to participate in the March for Life sponsored by North Carolina Right to Life.
Though officially a separate event, the March for Life is really a continuation of the day, Phillips said. "The talk about loving their lives and loving themselves and treating themselves as someone of value all tie together with the March for Life ... babies are of value, these youth are of value, everyone is precious in God’s sight, everyone is uniquely created by him,” she said.
- Mandy Howard