Almost 14,000 Catholics met at the Breslin Center in Lansing on Saturday, listening to Bishop Earl Boyea’s reminder that they are “Made for Happiness” as the assembly’s theme suggested. Those who gathered made up 22 percent of the Lansing Diocese’s church-going population, according to a news statement from the diocese. The assembly goers had the opportunity for prayer, listening to speakers, ended the day with a Mass.
St. Anthony’s Catholic Church in Hillsdale sent over 200 parishioners and college students, who began the day with a 3.6 mile eucharistic procession beginning at St. Mary’s Cathedral in downtown Lansing and then passing by the Michigan State Capitol before ending at the Breslin Student Activities Center.
The assembly was the third to be hosted by diocese.
Boyea said, as he opened the day’s conference, that the first assembly was in 2014, when 800 were in attendance: priests, deacons, and employees of the diocese.
“This third assembly is really about, how we go out into the court of the gentiles, how do we go out into the culture in which we live,” he said.
Several speakers from around the country joined to share the message of the day, which revolved around evangelization and the Great Commission, as included in the gospels.
Father Mike Schmitz is a priest from the Diocese of Duluth, Minnesota where he works in youth and young adult ministry for the diocese and as a university chaplain.
Sophomore Bridget Breckler said his talk was one of the highlights of her experience.
“He was talking about trusting in God in the midst of suffering, pain, and uncertainty,” she said. “As each of us grow into adults, we go through that, on our own, but in Christ.”
She saw the day as an outpouring of graces.
As Boyea sent those in attendance home, he declared a year of prayer for the Lansing Diocese.
Senior Jimmy McGrath said the day was full of “awe-inspiring” and “visceral” moments, in particular the eucharistic procession.
“What I took away from it was unity,” he said.
“The past few months have been rough for the Church, but the day was full of tangible signs of hope for the future.”