Ultimate 4JC Fest gets North Huntingdon encore
The Ultimate 4JC Fest returns to the Bishop Bosco Center in North Huntingdon, on April 14, back by popular demand, its organizers say, and with a repeat appearance by headliner Chris Padgett.
"The powerful and overwhelming response and the incredible excitement and enthusiasm in our summer and winter fests were affirmations that our audiences wanted to do it again," said Santos Hernandez, of Murrysville, one of the organizers.
The Ultimate 4JC (Jesus Christ) Fests are sponsored by the Vocation Office of St. Vincent Archabbey, in Latrobe, under the direction of Father Fred Byrne, O.S.B. Hernandez, a member of Mother of Sorrows Church, in Murrysville, is one of the co-organizers.
The events are aimed at Catholic youth and their families. Last summer, weekly musical and social gatherings at a park near Latrobe served as warmups for the big Ultimate 4JC Fest at St. Joseph Center, east of Greensburg. That all-day event drew youth and their families from around the region and sparked an interest in keeping the spirit going. A followup night in January drew more than 200 to the Bishop Bosco Center and set the stage for turning the fests into quarterly events, with three of them on a smaller scale.
"There was such a real hunger and desire among the young people to see an ongoing festive presence in their Catholic faith," Hernandez said. "They have found the fests to be very fulfilling and are saying that this is something that they really want."
Although Byrne's office primarily promotes vocations to the religious life, he organizes the fests as a call to young people to hear the voice of God in all of life's vocations.
"They are a way in our noisy culture for young people to listen to the quiet voice of God through music and private time, whether God wants them to be a good husband, wife, father, mother, or a priest or sister in the religious life," he said.
Music and Eucharistic adoration highlight all of the gatherings. Padgett, a nationally popular musician and speaker, was with the group Scarecrow and Tinmen before going solo. He and his wife, Linda, who met in high school and have eight children, co-authored a book on chastity. Padgett has made several local appearances, including at the summer fest.
"People in your area have been doing some great youth ministry work," he said in a phone interview from his home in Steubenville, Ohio, where he continues graduate studies at Franciscan University. "They are laying some wonderful foundations for Catholic youth ministry, and I think the kids are ready for it."
Hernandez has heard positive feedback from parents who are encouraged by the outcomes.
"They send their kids, and the kids bring friends and relatives," he said. "People are really touched by the whole experience and come to appreciate their faith."
Plans are under way for the Ultimate 4JC Summer Fest, which will be held at St. Vincent College on Aug. 17, and for the autumn event on Oct. 13. The weekly Tuesday evening gatherings near Latrobe start on June 12.
Doors open at 6:30 p.m. on April 14, and the $1 donation includes pizza and soft drinks. Cryptora, a praise band from St. Vincent Basilica, also will appear. Families are welcome. The Bishop Bosco Center is located at 1 Main St. in North Huntingdon. For more information, contact Hernandez at 724-733-0614 or Santos724@alltel.net.