BAILEYS HARBOR — A mother nabbed CatholicFest director Jen Lowery as she was winding her way through groups of people.
“Repeat that quote about modesty,” she said. Lowery smiled.
“Modest is the hottest and you’re worth waiting to see,” she said.
“That’s it,” the mother said. “I’ve got to tell my daughter that.” And off she went, disappearing into a sea of colorful tents where Catholic families camped for CatholicFest 2014.
The first CatholicFest was held in 2012 on the grounds of Catholic Youth Expeditions (CYE) on Kangaroo Lake in Baileys Harbor to celebrate CYE’s 10th anniversary. Its mission: to provide an opportunity for Catholic families to celebrate the good, the true and the beautiful through music, literature, art and film, as suggested by St. John Paul II in his letter to artists.
In the process, families get to enjoy an atmosphere supportive of their faith.
“It’s cool to see all these Catholic families, and everyone’s so into their faith,” said Angela Dvorak, 18, of Brillion. It was her first year at CatholicFest, but she has been coming to CYE for four years.
Julie and Joe Draves of Appleton were there for the second year with their five children, ranging in age from 8 years to 2 months. Julie said she appreciates the time for families to be together and meet other Catholic families — and they like the concerts, too.
Her 8-year-old daughter Maria said her favorite part was “Mass every day — and the swimming.”
Elsewhere, a group of older boys were teaching younger ones to play “r
ock, paper, scissors,” while another was heard asking a youngster, “What’s your favorite prayer?”
The entertainment, which participants were free to attend or not, included singer Rebecca Roubion, Catholic comedian Tony Bonse, Irish singer-songwriter Colm Kirwan, keynote speaker Jimmy Mitchell of Mysterium Records, an open mic talent show and family movies. Catholic artists and authors set up tables on the grounds. But there was also daily Mass and reconciliation, as well as perpetual adoration. A sign-up sheet on the doors of the chapel was full of names.
“This year, we slowed things down a lot,” Lowery said. “We made sure that people had plenty of free time, and we’ve heard nothing but good about that. We live in a society that tends to schedule every minute of every day, and families here appreciated the time to just be together.”
Lowery said the conversions of heart that occur during CatholicFest “are too many to name.”
“One man admitted he was a non-practicing Catholic, but by the end of the weekend he was participating joyously,” Lowery said.
The unabashedly Catholic atmosphere gave permission for participants to wear their faith on their sleeves — as was evidenced during some announcements from the main stage on Saturday.
“There is a wedding next door this afternoon, so please keep things quiet at this end of our grounds,” Lowery requested of the audience still gathered after the keynote speaker’s talk. To which a young voice replied from the crowd, “Let’s pray for the couple.” And so they did.
Although most families arrived on Thursday and stayed through Sunday, there were some who came and went, especially on Saturday, when 400 people mingled, prayed and praised together. Some came from as far away as New York, Nebraska and South Dakota.
“God willing, we’ll be doing this again on the Fourth of July weekend in 2015,” Lowery said.