When culture and faith embrace

Fathers of Mercy sprinkle spiritual salt on KCHS Spirit Week

By Pam Rhoades

The traveling missionary Fathers of Mercy visited Knoxville Catholic High School during Spirit Week 2019 and delivered a spiritual message students may never forget.

The priests were invited as part of a new initiative where the KCHS guidance department partnered with the religion department to redesign the College Fair event and bring the “discernment process” right alongside the “finding a college process.”

So Father Ricardo Pineda shared his “tools” with students that included looking for God’s signs, prayer, and finding peace and clarity in choosing God’s path.

The highlight of their visit was on Tuesday, Sept. 24, with a breakdancing, beatboxing, all-school assembly. Father Jewel Aytona kicked off the assembly with beatboxing and rhyming, combining inspirational lyrics with beat. Father Pineda fired up the crowd by playing the Fighting Irish fight song on the trumpet.

Prior to the breakdancing finale, Father Aytona shared the message of the dignity of the human body, encouraging students to persevere in the challenge of leading a Christian life. He told the students there is hope in confession and hope in the rosary; “Our Lady is a powerful intercessor.” He reminded the students to use these gifts that have been given to them to lead them to fulfillment.

“The Fathers of Mercy just made my entire four years at Knoxville Catholic,” said KCHS student Annika Von Buskirk.

Added fellow student Cathy Phan, “I realized that priests are people, too, and I could really identify with them.”

The highly visual Gospel presentation also left an impression on student Mary Elizabeth Cox.

“I thought the priests were relatable, and there was no doubt that each of them cared about us, our souls, our relationship with God, and wanted to allow us to grow in our faith,” she said.

Father Aytona believes breakdancing and beatboxing are effective ways to communicate.

“It’s a way to connect and meet people where they’re at. Never to lower the standard of the Gospel message, but find a way to connect and elevate people to what the standard is.”

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