By Jan Schultz
IMPERIAL (SNR) - More than 100 students in grades 7-12, from parishes in Benkelman, Grant, Imperial, McCook, Palisade, Stratton and Wauneta attended the “Southwest Nebraska Catechism Kickoff” at Chase County Schools in Imperial Sept. 23.
Brad Farmer and Gene Monterastelli entertained the students, adults and six parish priests with their program of “Christian vaudeville.”
Farmer and Monterastelli, who make up APeX Ministries, filled the program with humor, juggling and other antics, while following a “super heroes” theme.
“Our culture has embraced super heroes,” Farmer said. “And, if a trend like that lasts so long there has to be something to it.”
He noted super heroes are presented with a choice when they receive their “powers” or abilities, and they almost always choose to help people. Farmer told the students they are surrounded today by powerful super heroes.
“These are the people we call saints,” he said. “And, they are very present in our lives and are connected with us.”
Saints grew up in the same types of families as we do, Farmer continued. Therefore, all of us can work toward being saints, too, he said.
“The saints invited light and the spirit of God into their lives and they responded to it,” Farmer said.
Their Sept. 23 program was also on the feast day of Padre Pio (St. Pio of Pietrelcina), and Farmer reminded the audience of the miraculous things that happened to him.
The Padre Pio miracles included suffering commonly known as the ‘stigmata,’ in which he lived the crucifixion so internally he actually experienced the wounds that Christ endured on the cross.
“Miracles happen even today. They are in our presence but we often don’t recognize them,” he said.
Monterastelli reminded the youths that there has never been anyone else like each one of them. Each is gifted, he said.
“You’ve been given a super hero secret mission. You were made for greatness,” he assured the young people.
While some saints are very well known, he said most of them lived quiet lives, living out the “mission” given them by God.
Between the pair’s spiritual messages, they joked between themselves, told stories, and brought youths to the stage to spin plates or crack whips.