Two Spirit Day volunteers greet some of the 1,800 Grade 7 students who gathered at Pacific Academy in Surrey for this year’s Confirmation year event, themed “Anointed.” (Derek Juneson and Miso Media photos)

‘I opened my heart to Jesus’ at Spirit Day

When 1,800 Grade 7 students descended on Surrey’s Pacific Academy Nov. 4 and 5 for Anointed, this year’s Spirit Day for confirmation-age youth, it looked – and sounded – like they were having the time of their lives. So we reached out to students, volunteers, parents, and catechists to make sure. The consensus was clear: Spirit Day was one spirited event. 

Parents and catechists

As a first-time chaperone, Spirit Day was a memorable and humbling experience for me. It was heartwarming to witness so many schools in the Archdiocese coming together as one on a special day for the Grade 7s as they prepare for their Confirmation. The energy and atmosphere made it feel as if I was experiencing the excitement and joy as a Grade 7 student again!

I am honoured to work with a wonderful group of students from St. Paul’s, many of whom have been my PREP students for the past two years in Grades 6 and 7, and others whom I have led as an Altar Server Ministry Coordinator at the parish. They have grown in many ways in their faith over the past several years, and I am very proud of them!

I asked my students during our next PREP class how Spirit Day went for them. With big smiles on their faces as they shared their experiences, their favourite moments included the worship music, skits, and Mass with the Archbishop. I am extremely excited to continue leading our youth closer to Christ and journeying with them in their Confirmation year.

Christian San Juan, St. Paul’s Parish, Richmond

Archbishop Miller’s homily left teacher Josh Conway “full of faith that our youth will go out as witnesses to live and proclaim the Gospel!”

 In an age when youth are so glued to their phones and disconnected from society, Spirit Day offers a chance for students to come together in praise and worship. I have always loved this event for the same reasons I love World Youth Day on a larger scale: it gives Catholics a chance to see that they are not alone. In a society where we are increasingly mocked and ridiculed for our faith, Spirit Day is a day of living witness to the power of communion and being together. My students loved the music from John Paul Von Arx, the hilarious yet inspiring skits from APeX Ministries, and the chance to see that they are part of a larger Catholic Church and faith.

Kathy Mills, Blessed Sacrament Elementary, Vancouver

Attending Spirit Day 2023 for the third time as a chaperone was an uplifting experience. As a Grade 7 teacher, I always look forward to this as our starting point for my students’ Confirmation journey, an opportunity for our faith-filled youth to share their stories and to experience God’s love through a day of worship and praise with uplifting music performances, skits, and personal testimonies. I especially appreciated the energy and message from APeX Ministries: “You were built for greatness, you were made to be a Saint!” 

To wrap up the day, the Mass and homily from Archbishop Miller focusing on the theme “Anointed” left me full of faith that our youth will go out as witnesses to live and proclaim the Gospel!

Josh Conway, St. Bernadette Elementary, Surrey

Brad Farmer and Gene Monterastelli of Apex Ministries were among Spirit Day’s highlights.


As a first-year volunteer, I couldn’t imagine a better way to relive Spirit Day. I had an amazing time at the event when I was in Grade 7, so I knew I couldn’t miss the opportunity to help make someone else’s experience special.

I helped direct participants throughout the event and made sure everything ran smoothly, with an incredible group of volunteers who made the experience even more exciting. We got to see the smiles on the faces of the youth as they got off the bus in the morning, throughout the day, and as they climbed back on the bus at the end of a long day. Meeting with so many young Catholics was even more incredible meeting and reconnecting with so many young Catholics. I couldn’t believe how many people I’d met before, and reuniting with them and connecting with all the new faces made this day so memorable. Everyone was so incredible, energetic, and loving. If given the opportunity again, I wouldn’t hesitate to show young people how wonderful it is to come together and celebrate our faith.

Elise Levangie, Immaculate Conception Parish, Delta 

“During Holy Mass, I received another message from God,” said volunteer John Paul Escala. “And the phrase I heard was, ‘I am not merely molding you; I am anointing you to serve and love.’”

This year’s Spirit Day, I was blessed to serve as a team lead for the Usher committee. This role involves leading a team to guide guests in the right direction. It was a last-minute decision for me to volunteer this year, but I knew I had to do it. Juggling my busy schedule as a high school teacher and coach, I wasn’t sure if I could find the time to volunteer. The Holy Spirit urged and tugged at my heart to take the next step, which was to inquire about how I could contribute to this year’s Spirit Day. This year’s Spirit Day brought many blessings, but the most significant one was how the theme of “Anointed” became more apparent while I was serving the Grade 7 students. I felt that God didn’t just choose me; He anointed me to serve. During Holy Mass, I received another message from God, and the phrase I heard was, “I am not merely molding you; I am anointing you to serve and love.” This message made it clear that serving this weekend was not just a simple calling but a call to love. From this message, I know that God has anointed me to guide the Grade 7 students and chaperones to the most important aspect of the weekend, which is the Lord.

John Paul Escala, Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish, Surrey


Spirit Day is a day where schools from across the Archdiocese of Vancouver come together to learn about Confirmation. It helps us to deepen and strengthen our knowledge and understanding of our Lord Jesus Christ. This year’s Spirit Day theme was “Anointed,” and we received awesome shirts with this year’s theme printed onto them. Now, allow me to tell you about my experience on Spirit Day. I have heard many amazing stories from my eldest brother, so I was tremendously excited. So once we arrived at our destination, my friends and I were filled with great excitement. As soon as we arrived, we entered a large auditorium, where we were welcomed with a layout of how Spirit Day was going to happen. We were presented with amusing and humorous entertainment and some heartwarming stories. We then concluded our first session and transitioned to our lunch break; we were greeted with appetizing food and a wide range of snacks and drinks. During our lunch break, we were able to build new bonds and friendships. Afterward, we entered our other sessions, and we were stunned to see that many other Grade 7s were engaged and fully participated in the activities. Next, we faithfully attended Holy Mass which Archbishop Michael Miller celebrated. He taught us more about our Catholic spiritual upbringing and added more depth to our perception of our faith. Nearing the end of Spirit Day, we participated in our final session where we had an amazing concert where all the students danced and sang. Shortly after, Spirit Day was over. Spirit Day will definitely be a day for anyone to remember. The fun, the friendships, and the joyful memories will stay with me a lifetime.

Phoenix, St. Patrick’s Elementary, Vancouver 

Students loved the music of singer/songwriter John Paul Von Arx, one teacher said.

Opening your heart to Jesus can happen at any time in your life. Whether it’s praying at Church, at home, or having your sins forgiven. I opened my heart to Jesus on Spirit Day this year. I was thinking that Spirit Day would be just listening to people having life-changing connections with God and that everyone has miracles every day in their lives. If you’re like me and you’re waiting for God to show you a sign that he wants you, trust in God. When I heard the amazing band singing, I felt God’s presence telling everyone that he loves us unconditionally. When the skits happened, it all led to Jesus and loving him no matter the circumstances. At Spirit Day, it’s okay if you want to close your eyes and listen to God. Spirit Day is for praising God without being judged; so is your entire life. I was mesmerized when I heard all the Grade 7s singing and praising Jesus. Why would we ever have to be ashamed of our faith when people as young as 12 years old can open their hearts to Jesus? We won’t. Spirit Day inevitably changed my life, people’s lives, and taught us to be proud of being a child of God. My main takeaway from Spirit Day is to speak up and praise God.

Maddie, St. Anthony’s Elementary, West Vancouver 

Brad Farmer and Gene Monterastelli of Apex Ministries mixed juggling, laughs, and evangelism for an enthusiastic Spirit Day crowd.

My Spirit Day experience was probably one of the highlights of my Grade 7 year. I enjoyed the music by John Paul Von Arx. His music was lively and uplifting, and it brought together the theme for the day. Gene and Brad of APeX Ministries were so much fun with their juggling, magic, and comedy. At first, it seemed all entertainment. But it developed into deeper topics about life and God. We were also introduced to a seminarian named Peter. He talked a bit about what a seminarian was and why he wanted to become a priest. After lunch, we were also introduced to a newly ordained priest. He talked about his childhood and why he wanted to become a priest. These men of God inspired me to open myself up to whatever God calls me to be. The last session was short, but I enjoyed it so much. It was just beautiful to see all the flashlights as the songs were being sung as one. After Spirit Day, I felt the change inside me. I felt closer to God. I felt like nothing could separate me from him. My hope is that my siblings will get to enjoy their Spirit Day as much as I did.

Miguel, Our Lady of Good Counsel Elementary, Surrey

Volunteers lend helping hands to students.

Spirit Day was totally awesome. It was absolutely inspiring and definitely a fruitful experience. It was a very serious topic to learn about, but it wasn’t a tiny bit boring. I loved Spirit Day because the programs had lovely music, funny acts, and stories mixed with important things and morals to think about for Confirmation. If I had to describe Spirit Day to someone, I would say it is a day program with really fun activities, lots of inspiring music, and lots of time just to think about the goodness of God. I really did enjoy the time when I was thinking about all the things that God has given me. It is a really beautiful time just talking to God. I will remember that no matter what the troubles of my life are and what others think of me, I need to remember God made me for a purpose, and he never made a mistake in creating me. I was really inspired by the testimony of Father Medard. He said that he went through a lot of doubt about God and wasn’t happy with who he was. He used to think God made a mistake in creating him.  There have been a few times when I have gone through that, so the testimony of Father Medard really helps me believe in myself and know that God created me for a reason. I am more excited now because I learned more about our mission on earth and that we are the anointed ones. This is what I will remember from Spirit Day: God loves me, we have a mission on earth, we are the anointed ones, and no matter what others think of me, I will remember God created me for a purpose, and he never made a mistake in creating me.

Francesca, St. Anthony of Padua Elementary, Vancouver

Volunteers show their spirit.


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