Dan Harms, a member of the Christian folk music group Popple, performs during the Wisconsin Catholic Youth Rally 2010 March 27 at Mount Mary College in Milwaukee. More than 1,000 area Catholic youths attended the all-day event which featured music, speakers and a Mass celebrated by Milwaukee Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki. (Catholic Herald photo by Ernie Mastroianni)

MILWAUKEE — Mercy was the overarching theme at an annual rally held March 27 for youth from the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. More than 1,000 teens attended the daylong event.

Five speakers and musicians were featured at this year’s Wisconsin Catholic Youth Rally at Mount Mary College. The event was sponsored by Kenosha-based W.Y.R.E. Ministries, a group centering its mission around Pope John Paul’s call for new evangelization.
“This is always a high-energy event,” said Dick Boldin, co-founder of the Rosary Evangelization Apostolate, the parent organization of W.Y.R.E. Ministries.

This was the fifth year for the rally. All of the organization’s programs are aimed at inspiring youth to gain a deeper knowledge and love for Jesus, the church, the power of the rosary and the grace of the Blessed Sacrament.

This year’s event included Christian rapper and minister Lil Mike and acoustic singer and speaker Dan Harms. Despite his age, Lil Mike, 22, has lived a dramatic life, having abused drugs as a teenager and contending with anxiety and depression. He credits his faith in God for turning his life around.

Harms, who oftentimes infuses humor into his music, has used his ministry and talents as an opportunity to share the wonders of faith and life.

Jim Beckman shared with attendees how fearlessness is possible, even in a world filled with unknowns. Beckman addressed several relevant issues with the audience, including the rise of school violence. He also dug into the Scriptures, sharing how the story of the woman at the well in Samaria is as relevant today as it was when the downtrodden, reclusive woman encountered Jesus in a very real way.

“Very few of us make it to that place of authentic, true intimacy with Jesus,” said Beckman, executive director of ImpactCenter, a Colorado-based youth minister mentoring and consulting ministry. “Fearlessness brings freedom, and when we’re free, God can really use us. Freedom also is an opportunity to be an evangelist to the community.”

Throughout his hour-long talk, Beckman implored participants to not only embrace Jesus, but to make every effort possible to embrace his many attributes toward people, be they classmates, teachers and other youth and adults.

“When we feel love, it just naturally stirs up a desire to want to love in return,” Beckman said. “It brings about peace, kindness and self-control. Jesus can transform our brokenness and heal all of our wounds.”

Sr. Therese Marie Iglesias delivered a talk on the sacrament of reconciliation. As vocations director of her religious community, the Franciscan Sisters, TOR of Penance of the Sorrowful Mother, Sr. Therese Marie speaks frequently to groups about God’s love and his desire to have an intimate relationship with everyone.

During his presentations, Milwaukee native Dave Braun, youth minister at St. Francis Cabrini Parish in West Bend, wove stories from his life experiences into the context of Catholicism. Braun did not grow up Catholic, but converted to the faith as an adult.

Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki celebrated Mass at the rally and participants had numerous opportunities to receive the sacrament of reconciliation.