by MICHAEL OTTO
AUCKLAND — You have got to pray, rapped out the rapping priest Fr Stan Fortuna, CFR, to young people at the Lifefest festival at Takapuna on September 22.
Because if you don’t pray, you can’t love, Fr Fortuna from the United States said.
And there is only one place where they don’t have love, and you don’t want to go there, because they don’t let anyone out, he warned.
Fr Fortuna is one of eight original members of the Community of the Francisan Friars of the Renewal, founded by the late John Cardinal O’Connor of New York.
The author of three books — U Got 2 Believe, U Got 2 Pray and U Got 2 Love — Fr Fortuna travels the world preaching and giving concerts. He performed at World Youth Day in Sydney in 2008.
In Auckland, Fr Fortuna had the following advice for anyone who finds it hard to pray: Tell God about it. The same advice can be given to anyone who isn’t a believer: Tell God about it.
“It might not be the best prayer in the world, but it is honest and it is still prayer,” Fr Fortuna said.
The Lifefest, held at St Joseph’s School Hall and organised by Family Life International New Zealand, featured talks on love and faith.
There was also a youth concert, a banner procession to St Joseph’s Church, and Mass. Several religious orders and the Catholic Discipleship College ran promotional stalls. Priests were available for Reconciliation.
Bishop Patrick Dunn gave a catechesis session and used a phrase from marriage preparation, telling the young people that love is a decision, not a feeling. “Love is a decision — it is one of the most important messages of life.”
Faith, too, is a decision, and this can be tough in modern New Zealand, the bishop said.
“We have got to be people of prayer, praying every day,” he said, adding that he is a great believer in praying in the way that “you can” rather than in ways that “you can’t”. “Pray in a way that works for you.”
Bishop Dunn said that to nourish our faith, we should try to recognise the signs of God’s presence, in the world and in our lives. He also advocated love for the Mass and for the Church.
He noted that it is really important to love the Church. The bishop said Jesus came to call sinners, so we will find them in the Church, but we will also find great scholars and saints.
by MICHAEL OTTO