Late Friday evening, approximately 300 young adults eagerly stepped through the doors of the Freed Theater in Christ Cathedral’s Cultural Center and, knowing they are forgiven, would never be the same.
Young adults from all over Orange County and throughout Southern California joined together on the evening of March 4 as part of the Diocese of Orange event, “Mercy’s Wake,” hosted in partnership with 242Revolution and The City Lights, two California-based pastoral ministry organizations that evangelize to youth and young adults.
“Mercy’s Wake” was just one of the opportunities for young adults and families to take part in during the “24 Hours for the Lord” worldwide event.
Pope Francis launched the worldwide 24 Hours for the Lord initiative, encouraging the devoted faithful to go to Eucharistic adoration and the Sacrament of Confession. The 24-hour event was the Pope’s way of guiding the Catholic Church to experience mercy through prayer and reconciliation, as one of many worldwide activities during the Jubilee Year of Mercy.
The day at Christ Cathedral included a Mass celebrated by Bishop Kevin Vann, a Lenten sandwich-making service project, a praise and worship teen event, and multiple screenings of the film “Full of Grace.” For 24 hours, a labyrinth prayer walk, Migrant Stations of the Cross exhibit, Rosary/Chaplet of Divine Mercy prayers, interactive “mercy messages” wall, and the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
“It’s not too often that we get to spend time with our Lord in adoration overnight,” said Noel Tabasco, from Holy Family parish in Artesia. “24 hours with the Lord–it was simple, yet reverent.”
“It was a big collaborative effort, with a lot of people–and at least 200 religious; sisters and priests-–coming together to support,” said Sister Eymard Flood, OSC, the Vicar for Religious for 20 years at Christ Cathedral. “It is a great opportunity to get together and pray with your brothers and sisters around the world, and seeing the different forms of prayer that people identify with; migrant stations, Rosary, reconciliation, worship Mass. There are lots of ways to pray and activities to express our faith. It was wonderful to see young kids and families to older people getting involved.”
At the Freed Theater, young adults were buzzing with excitement, meeting and hanging out with their friends, enjoying the worship music and ocean-themed ambiance. Despite the late hour, Bishop Vann also stopped by the event for words of encouragement and, of course, to take a selfie.
Then the lights hit, and the crowd hushed, excited to see what “Mercy’s Wake” was all about.
Musician Francis Cabildo and his band led the night in uplifting live praise and worship, with an encouraging message of mercy given by 242Revolution Ministries’ Youth Minister Chris Mueller.
“I can’t earn God’s love, but I can respond to it,” Mueller told his engaged audience. “Merciful acts are responses to God’s invitation into mercy.”
“Just as Jesus Christ called Peter from the boat out onto the storm, God calls each of us out on a deep, personal level; out of our comfort zones. He gives us His eyes and His heart. We will bear His fruit if we go out in His will.”
Volunteers, participants, and many of those present throughout the night came from different corners of Southern California, eager to worship with fellow young adults and to experience God’s unending depths of mercy.
“We came here from Murrieta to volunteer with our youth leader, Chris Mueller. This is part of a global event that we wanted to take part in,” said Nathan Love, from St. Martha’s parish in Murrieta. “There’s tons of people here, and tons more still trying to get in. You show up and you see all of your friends.”
Camille Callas, a City Lights volunteer from San Francisco Solano Church in Rancho Santa Margarita, shared, “The City Lights are a group of people who were called to start a new young adult ministry, starting from the ground up. We are just following the Spirit.”
Agreed Katalina Magyar from St. Martha’s in Murrieta, “We hold events throughout the year, host speakers, adoration, praise and worship, acts of mercy through shared activities and events. As young adults, we tend to get caught up and lose sight of our faith. Mercy’s Wake is an opportunity for us to come and experience God’s mercy on a different level, with hundreds of other young Christians.”
“It was really reminiscent of teen events I would attend when I was younger. I felt at home with the Holy Spirit because everyone was so open to [Chris Mueller’s] message and to the music,” said Charis Kwon, 20, from St. Paul the Apostle parish in Chino Hills. “‘Mercy’s Wake’ to me is remembering that Christ is constantly knocking at the door of my heart; that it is not me who pursued Him first, but He who pursues me. That no matter how much I want to give up on myself, He will never give up on me.”
After the event ended at midnight, uplifted young adults flocked next door for Confession and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, both of which were available well into the morning. The community also expressed excitement for the next young adult event, which was later announced: “Abandon: A night of Worship, Message, and Adoration” hosted by 242Revolution on March 11th, at St. Anne Catholic Church in Seal Beach.
“What an incredible event to kick off the 24 Hours for the Lord! ‘Mercy’s Wake’ is a prophetic event, called by Pope Francis, that represents not just what God is doing in Orange County, but what God is doing in Southern California and all over the world,” shared Jerome Resurreccion, from Holy Name of Mary parish in San Dimas. “Tsunamis of His mercy are crashing unto His church!”
Jules Carandang from St. Mel’s in Tarzana came to the Diocese of Orange along with her community, Families in Christ Jesus ministries.
“It’s refreshing to know that, even traveling here all the way from up north, the young adult ministry in Southern California is alive and growing and thriving,” she said. “It’s so powerful knowing that young adults, especially with our society today, are counter-culturing everyone else. It’s a revolution. It’s so much fun, and you can feel God’s presence filling up the space. What stuck out to me is God’s message of mercy. I may have forgiven people who have hurt me…but it’s not about deserving it. We don’t deserve God’s mercy, but He gives it to us all the time.”
“When we give mercy to someone, how much more does God give us?”