Over 200 Catholic teenagers and young adults gathered at St. Martin’s University in Lacey, Washington this past weekend, for the third annual Ignite Your Torch Northwest youth conference. And among the sea of blue and green shirts, there were also a number of habits, including those of the Dominican Friars of the Province of the Most Holy Name of Jesus.
Like most old-fashioned summer camps, the conference includes time for recreational activities such as: basketball, Frisbee, dodgeball, soccer, and flag-football. But as a ministry of Catholics United for Life, the main goal is to provide young people with opportunities to encounter the Lord and embrace one’s faith.
In addition to daily Mass, Eucharistic Adoration and Benediction, times for Confession, a rosary procession around the campus, and enrollment in the Angelic Warfare Confraternity, there are also compelling keynotes that appeal to young people with the power and truth of the Catholic faith. Furthermore, all the religious lead small groups and provide workshops on various topics. This year the friars offered presentations on: prayer and the spiritual life, effective witnessing and evangelization, faith and science, morality and the virtues.
“The Dominicans are intellectual and spiritual rock stars for Jesus at Ignite,” notes Joshua Johnson, Board Member and former Executive Director of Ignite Your Torch. “The Dominicans help the youth answer their deepest questions and explain the truths of our Catholic faith in a way that engages their intellect and transforms their soul.”
Such an engagement results in a greater understanding of God’s power and mercy, and leaves a positive impact on the youth that they remember for life. Having been exposed to the fullness and beauty of the Catholic Church’s teaching, these young people are able to find strength as they struggle with the ways of the world.
“Watching the teens grow in their faith is one of the many reasons I keep coming back to Ignite,” says Br. Michael James Rivera, O.P. “I’ve been involved for the last three years, and every year I’m inspired by these young people who are the future of the Church. The world tells them that they can do whatever they want, but what they want is to serve God and be a witness to the Truth.”
While the first Ignite Your Torch conference was offered over a decade ago in Kentucky, Ignite Your Torch Northwest didn’t arrive in Washington state until 2013. Yet it has quickly become one of the most engaging and effective Catholic summer programs for youth on the west coast.
According to organizers, this is because Ignite provides an atmosphere of authentic, Catholic fellowship for young people, in the midst of numerous priests and religious. In addition to the Dominican Friars, this year’s conference included men and women from several religious orders and congregations: Benedictine Monks, Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (Mother of Christ), Discalced Carmelite Friars, Carmelite Sisters, Dominican Sisters of Saint Cecilia, Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, Sisters of the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity, Sisters of Life, and Sisters of Mary (Mother of the Church). Also present were priests and seminarians from the Archdioceses of Seattle and Portland.
The ability to have so many religious present is, in part, because of generous benefactors who covered the cost of their travel, food and lodging. These donors also provided financial aid for many of the teenagers and young adults. The staff of Ignite is extremely grateful to all these individuals, and ask for prayers that this ministry might continue in the years to come.
Check out the Ignite 2015 photo gallery
Visit the Ignite Your Torch Northwest website