Screams of delight could be heard echoing through St Joseph’s School hall in Takapuna for Lifefest 2012 (Auckland). About 350 people attended, including groups from as far away as Hamilton.
Father Stan Fortuna, a foundation member of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal in New York, entertained and inspired the crowd. Preaching and singing, he covered the topics “U Got 2 Pray” (pinched from the title of his second book he told everyone) and “U Got 2 Love”. Thunderous applause resonated at the conclusion of each of his performances. If you missed it, copies of the DVDs are available from FLI.
“You came from love, you were made to love, and you will go to love” Fr Stan said. In one of his songs he used the acronym, “Family” which means, “Forget About Me I Love You”. This is an updated version of one of his older songs.
The theme of Bishop Pat’s talk was “U Got 2 Have Faith”. Commenting on the fact that in next year’s census it is expected that 50% will select “no religion”, Bishop Pat said that a large number of New Zealanders don’t believe in God. He reminded us that we need to be a light to the world. He stunned everyone when he recounted that when he was young he doubted the very existence of God, and now he is the Bishop of Auckland!
Bishop Pat and several priests offered the Sacrament of Reconciliation to the young people and were later applauded by all those present for doing so.
Other performers were Eli Moore, pianist and singer, the Mother of Divine Mercy Youth, with Praise & Worship led by Youth For Christ. There were vocation testimonies, including Florina from the Missionaries of Charity, who beamed with joy as she shared her experience of discerning her vocation, and Fr Ronan Murphy who told us how a miraculous encounter with Mary led him to Jesus and the priesthood.
One of the mums whom FLI has helped, also shared her heart-wrenching testimony. She told everyone that she was truly loved and helped by FLI, with all her needs taken care of. Then she encouraged the youth to contact FLI if they ever found themselves in a similar circumstance. Speaking from personal experience, she stressed that abortion was not the answer.
The Youth Concert showcased local talent as well as Fr Stan’s last performance of the day. Fr Stan wowed the audience when he invited Ben Bayer, who has Down syndrome, to perform with him using the ukulele while he rapped free-style.
The Mother of Divine Mercy Youth performed a spine chilling haka to the thrill of the audience; Youth For Christ presented a modern group dance; Carmel College student, Elana Siljic surprised everyone with her engaging voice as she sang a couple of her own songs and Onehunga Parish Youth Choir once again enthralled everyone with their beautiful voices.
After the event, the youth and young adults overflowed with enthusiasm as some sang and danced with joy in the parking lot. Once again, Fr Stan left his imprint on the hearts of the teenagers.
Written by FLI Staff