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Fan The Fire Bringing Its Spiritual Warmth Back To St Rose



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After a one-year absence, Fan the Fire - Connecticut's largest and longest-running Catholic youth rally - is returning to the parish of St Rose of Lima Roman Catholic Church on Saturday, August 11.The Newtown Bee that in 2017, the Diocese of Bridgeport experimented with relocating the event to St Joseph High School in Trumbull. Mr Blessey, who established the gathering of hundreds of Catholic youths a dozen years ago, said the decision was made to bring Fan The Fire activities back to where they began this year.fanthefirerally.com/ftf-ct/.

Event organizer and resident Rodd Blessey recently told 

Mr Blessey said Newtown's Fan The Fire (FTF) is patterned after a similar event in York, Penn., where it has been held successfully for 20 years under the direction of its founder and youth minister Scott Anthony.

"We held our first event here 12 years ago at Reed school and just brought in a bunch of Catholic speakers," he said. "The inspiration was to offer a full day where teens who had questions or wanted to learn more about how their Catholic faith fits in the greater framework of their lives. But our goal was to try and do that in a fun and friendly way."

That fun and friendly formula includes everything from a huge water balloon toss involving more than 500 expected participants and an opportunity to worship with the Most Reverend Bishop of Bridgeport Frank J. Caggiano to laughing and learning with the comedy team of Nun and Nunner (Caitie Beardmore and Michaela Glafke, who portray Sister Mary Rose and Sister Maria Stella, respectively), packing 10,000 meals for a Catholic Relief Services mission in Africa, and enjoying a musical keynote from inspirational Christian musician Chris Padgett.

Follow, Golden, Wonder (Joyful Desperation), and The Encounter.

A founding member of the popular Christian band Scarecrow and Tinmen, Mr Padgett wrote, recorded, and toured with the band for seven years. He also has more than four solo albums to his credit, including 

"We always look to make Fan the Fire very inclusive and engaging for all the kids as well as our guests," Mr Blessey said. "We're expecting a capacity crowd of as many as 600, with around 100 coming from St Rose."

He said while Nun and Nunner will be doing spiritually-themed music parodies, they are also leading a breakout session.

"The theme of our event this year is 'Be Courageous,' so a lot of our talks and sessions will focus on that concept as we see it in the lives of young Catholic people," Mr Blessey said. "For example, one session with Father Joseph Gill will address the question, 'Why Be catholic?' While father Sam Kachuba is leading a session for college-age youths on maintaining a home and health balance."

Former St Rose teens Katie Keogler and Kevin Donovan will lead a Newtown music ministry ensemble along with Ian Keogler and Tony Leonardi, and they will entertain the audience with contemporary Christian praise and worship selections.

"Fan the Fire is primarily geared for catholic youths primarily between grades eight to 12," Mr Blessey said. "Anyone outside of Newtown interested in attending should inquire through their local parish youth ministry."

The one-day event runs from 9:30 am to 10 pm.

The $45 admission charge includes lunch, dinner, and funds for the service project. Individuals and groups can register by visiting

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Newtown resident Rodd Blessey, standing left, leads a session at the Diocese of Bridgeport's 2017 Fan the Fire youth rally in Trumbull. After the one-year departure, the regional Catholic gathering of young people - which was established in Connecticut by Mr Blessey 12 years ago - is returning to Newtown's Roman Catholic Church on August 11. (photo courtesy Diocese of Bridgeport)
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