HUTTONSVILLE—A total of 81 young Catholics from across the diocese convened in Huttonsville for the diocese’s annual Senior High Youth Conference.
The conference was held Sept. 28-29 with the theme “Turn Your World Upside Down,” based on the Scripture reading for that Sunday. The young participants received a special treat with a visit and performance by Tony Melendez, who was born without arms and learned to play the guitar with his feet. He is well known for his performance for Pope John Paul II in 1987 in Los Angeles. The pope was so moved by Melendez’s performance that he kissed him in appreciation.
Young people are pictured at the diocese’s annual Senior High Youth Conference in Huttonsville.
“Tony was inspirational in that he wasn’t someone high on a pedestal,” said Mary Piaskowski, Youth Board member from Huntington. “He came to our level and shared in our struggles as we shared in his. He made it obvious that while life isn’t easy God really works in our lives.”
“You cannot be with Tony without being inspired,” said Bob Perron, executive director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry for the diocese. “Tony was born with no arms. Nobody would have expected that he would learn to play guitar with his feet, perform for Blessed John Paul II, Pope Emeritus Benedict and Pope Francis. Nobody would have expected that he would present in 44 countries and all 50 states in the United States. That is until they meet Tony and experience his deep faith. I believe every person who attended our conference went home challenged to use the gifts God gave them regardless of the obstacle placed in their way.”
Tony Melendez performs at the diocese’s annual Senior High Youth Conference in Huttonsville. The conference gathered 81 young Catholics from across the diocese.
The conference also included several breakout sessions, concerts by the diocesan house-band and workshops. Participants also attended Mass and had the chance to go to confession and adoration. Priests present at the conference were Father Leonard Smith and Father Carlos Melocoton.