Not just a primetime TV show, Friday Night Lights at St. Paul the Apostle church in Chino Hills is a special place for the youth to gather in for fellowship, worship, and a meaningful message.
“FNL is a safe place where people can be together and comfortable in; it’s a great environment to just be yourself and be as open as you want to be, without being afraid of being judged or holding anything back,” shared Alexis C., a teen at St. Paul the Apostle. “Once you start going, it becomes something that you just naturally want to be more involved with. We’re all worshipping God together and have this incredible opportunity to get to know one another [in the] Eucharist.”
The first Friday Night Lights season started in 2011, when a group of ministers and musicians at the parish got together with the idea of “redefining Fridays” by offering a space for teens to gather for worship, adoration, and a spiritual message. Held on St. Paul’s campus, the monthly Friday night event is open to youth from and around the parish, and has attracted attendees as far as LA and Orange County.
“God sees our inadequacy, and He knows that sometimes big things seem overwhelming,” said the FNL speaker on May 27, speaking to the teens about breaking bread. “But God desires you to take what you can to offer and be a part of this miracle. Jesus is the unending bread who will always satisfy you—you will always have such an important role in the feeding of this world.”
Over 100 youth gathered at St. Paul’s that evening to hear the message, with music led by local praise and worship band Love, Resonate.
“It really opened my eyes to the message [that] I need to bring God what we have, and He will use it and multiply it, like the loaves and the fish,” one youth minister at St. Paul shared.
Agreed retreat leader Jackie Ayala, “I love the music they played. It reminded me that music helps my faith journey, and reflects how I have grown as a person from when I first got confirmed [in the] faith.”
The last FNL of the season took place on Friday, June 17, with an outdoors adoration/praise and worship from Love, Resonate and message given by Brian Pickett from La Purisima in Orange.
Unify2Glorify: Apostolic creativity for the Lord
On the last weekend of May, the Feast of Corpus Christi, the Church celebrates Christ’s presence in the breaking of the bread. Unify2Glorify, a praise and worship team and annual event going on five years strong, was started from a devotion to the Holy Eucharist—and a love for sharing God’s gifts.
“I was spending time daily in the Blessed Sacrament, practicing the spiritual exercises of St. Ignatius [of Loyola], and I just knew that God was calling me to do something…I wanted to bring other people to that same experience of falling in love and encountering Him daily,” shared Chentel Tabbada, who founded Unify2Glorify with a team of volunteers.
Tabbada, who was working at the Santiago Retreat Center in Silverado, was asked to put on a concert in 2012 at the center using her network and resources.
“I didn’t want it to be about music. I wanted there to be a purpose, and things just fell into place,” she said. “Now, several years later, so much has changed, including the facility, the growth with the community, and all the different forms of art we share.”
The 5th annual Unify2Glorify was held on May 28 at Christ Cathedral’s Cultural Center, with help from the Diocese of Orange’s Youth and Young Adults leadership. “In the past, the planning process can take up to a year in advance, and we’ve also been preparing in prayer, committed to a daily Holy Hour, waiting on the Lord to come, Tabbada added. “The diocese [of Orange] has also been very generous to help us [move to] a bigger facility. Seeing it grow over the years is incredible. I want everyone to know about the Feast of Corpus Christi!”
Echoing St. John Paul II’s rhapsodic theater, the event showcased diverse communal talents, including spoken word, rap, song, and a magic show with the sisters of Lovers of the Holy Cross [of Los Angeles].
“U2G is really about bringing the church together with their talents…when the youth and young adults show their gifts, the church gets renewed and rebuilt. There is something that clicks between the heart and mind about the Eucharist and the Church,” shared Laura Corza, a Unify2Glorify team member from Tustin.
Robert Lucero from Chino Hills shared a spoken word poem from the heart, while hip-hop artist Taylor Thomas rapped several verses about the healing he found in the Eucharist. Young adults hailed from parishes throughout the region and diocese, including San Antonio in Anaheim Hills, St. Justin Martyr, San Juan Capistrano, Our Lady of the Assumption in Claremont, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Rowland Heights, St. Peter Chanel in Hawaiian Gardens, St. Denis in Diamond Bar, and St. Philip Benizi in Fullerton.
“Bringing so many people from different parishes together and celebrating revival through the Eucharist. I also liked how a lot of my friends experienced different things in their hearts and were prayed over,” said Jerome Resurreccion, from Holy Name of Mary in San Dimas.
Preceding adoration and confession, the night also featured a message from Fr. Augustine of the Norbertines, who pastors St. John the Baptist in Costa Mesa.
“Christ is truly present among us in the Blessed Sacrament, and that belief translates into action. The Eucharist challenges us to live differently because it challenges us to love differently,” Fr. Augustine shared. “It is God sacramentally present in the true presence of real love.”
Agreed first time-goer Jessica Vitente, “Personally, this was like a mini-reunion with old and new ministry friends under one roof. I think it is important for teens and young adults to attend [Unify2Glorify] because it is powerful to have one God move his children’s hearts in ways we wouldn’t expect. To have a powerful and loving God send his special message to each one of us.”
“It was also my first time experiencing someone pray over me in tongues. It was in that moment I felt God’s special love message to me. It was only then when I knew why He brought me to the event,” Vitente, from Our Lady of the Assumption, added. “After feeling spiritually renewed after an explosive U2G night, I am happy I went, and I’m excited to do it all over again.”