Once in a lifetime event

Blessed Carlo Acutis

LAYTON — A first-class relic of Blessed Carlo Acutis now in the Diocese of Salt Lake City is intended to help the youth deepen the practice of their faith.

In the Catholic Church, there are three classifications of relics. A first-class relic is a body part of the saint; a second-class relic is one of the saint’s possessions; a third-class relic is an object that was touched by the saint, or that has been touched to a first- or second-class relic.

The relic obtained by the diocese is three hairs from Blessed Carlo Acutis, who died of leukemia in 2006 at age 15. He was known to have a special love for God, and designed a website that documented Eucharistic miracles throughout the world. He was beautified in 2010. The hairs are mounted on a white flower-like shape with six petals, which have a yellow backing. These are set on red fabric and enclosed in a round gold case. The relic, accompanied by a certificate of authenticity, is stored at Saint Rose of Lima Catholic Church in Layton.

“I’m going to say Acutis comes here to teach us that we all can have a friendship with Jesus, a real friendship where Jesus becomes all in our lives, especially the youth,” said Father Gustavo Vidal, pastor of Saint Rose of Lima and chairman of the diocesan liturgical commission that aims to involve local Catholic youth more intimately with the Church. The effort, known as the Carlo Acutis Apostolate, also is meant to help address the high youth suicide rate.

While he lived, Blessed Carlo Acutis “enjoyed many hobbies – sports, computer and video games,” Fr. Vidal said. “His parents, despite being Catholics, were not particularly religious, but Acutis received communion at age 7 and soon began attending Mass and praying before the Blessed Sacrament as often as possible, encouraging his parents to go to Mass with him.”

When he got sick, Blessed Carlo offered his suffering to the pope and the Church, and “he is the first millennial to be considered Blessed,” Fr. Vidal said.

The Carlo Acutis Apostolate, which began this year, already has organized four diocesan youth rallies, which began in February and were held every couple of months since then. The rallies began with a Mass, followed by presentations about Blessed Carlo Acutis and the Real Presence. In addition, a documentary on his life was shown, followed by dialogue about what the youth saw in the documentary.

The rallies also included activities and talks about the Eucharist, in keeping with the call by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to teach about the sacrament. At the end of each rally, the youth who attended were encouraged to be representatives of Christ in their communities.

The next rally for the Carlo Acutis Apostolate is planned for Jan. 20 at St. Joseph the Worker Catholic Parish in West Jordan. Also scheduled is a youth encounter on April 20 at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Parish in Orem, which will include will music by Alvaro Vega, a Catholic rapper known as “Communion.”

“We want to have the participation of all the youth in the diocese from 14 to 18 years old,” Fr. Vidal said.

The Carlo Acutis Apostolate is co-chaired by Michael Edwards. The apostolate also has a special team comprised of people in the parishes that host the youth rallies. The team helps organize the events.

“We have a group that speaks in Spanish and another in English,” Fr. Vidal said.

The faithful who wish to make a pilgrimage to St. Rose of Lima Parish to visit the Acutis relic are encouraged to contact Fr. Vidal. “We will welcome them and accommodate them here,” he said.

On Saturday, Dec. 2, Bishop Oscar A. Solis will celebrate a Mass welcoming the first-class relic to the diocese. The 5 p.m. Mass will be celebrated at St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church, 210 S. Chapel St., Layton. A reception will follow. All are welcome.

Written by Laura Vallejo, Intermountain Catholic.

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