Over 10,000 youth from five states turned out Oct. 25 and 26 to praise Jesus in song, pray and listen to inspirational speakers as part of the third Holy Fire gathering held at UIC Pavilion. The Archdiocese of Chicago partners with the National Catholic Youth Council for the local event aimed at youth in sixth through ninth grade. It mirrors the national gathering held for high schoolers each year in Indianapolis. The goal is to provide youth with a high energy opportunity to celebrate and grow in their faith. “Today was a really fun day. Because of the music it was very upbeat and inspiring. We met a lot of new people,” said Ruby Arun, a sixth-grader at Holy Family Catholic Academy in Inverness. “The message was that you should always be upbeat and let God into your heart.” She was one of 90 students from her school who attended Holy Fire Oct. 25. Gerardo Guerrero, an eighth-grader at Queen of the Universe School, 7130 S. Hamlin Ave., said he also enjoyed everyone singing the contemporary Christian songs together. The message he said he would take away from Holy Fire was to “keep trying and don’t let anybody bring you down.” Naija Sherwood, a seventh-grader at Queen of the Universe, said her favorite part was the beginning of the day when she and other youth got to dance up on stage. For her, the most important message of the day was, “God is always with you.” The feeling of being connected to other Catholic youth was “eye-opening” for Analiese Corral from St. Edward School, 4343 W. Sunnyside Ave. “When you all come together you’re part of something bigger than yourself and that’s God,” said the eighth-grader. “Conquering your Goliath was one of the main things that I took from today, that God will be there with me and I can make it through with him by my side.” Avery Linnemeyer attends the Disney School but the eighth-grader took the day off to join her friends from St. Edward’s at Holy Fire. She was inspired by Deacon Harold Burke-Sivers message that God is always with you in times of struggle. “Life isn’t always fairy-tale land,” she said. “I can relate and it’s nice to know that other people go through what I go through. It’s nice to know that people care about me even though I may do bad things and I have trouble with things.” Each day ended with adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, with everyone kneeling in quiet prayer, and Mass. Following Mass, Father Tim Monahan, the archdiocesan vocations director, asked everyone to close their eyes and pray and asked boys considering a vocation to the priesthood to come to the stage to be prayed over by seminarians. He invited all gathered to extend their arms over the boys and join in the prayer. He repeated the action with the girls considering vocations to religious life. Over the two days about 100 youth came before the congregation for prayer.