By JIM GRAVES     4/4/2023

Spirit Filled Hearts Ministry (SFHM) presented an “I Thirst Young Adults” at the Santiago Retreat Center the weekend of March 11-12. The event drew hundreds of young adults for Mass, praise music, prayer and adoration, as well as presentations by prominent Catholic speakers. Orange Auxiliary Bishop Timothy Freyer came to celebrate Mass and speak to the young adults; Bishops Kevin Vann and Thanh Thai Nguyen participated as well. Leading the weekend was permanent Deacon Steve Greco of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Irvine, director of Evangelization and Formation for the Diocese of Orange and founder of Spirit Filled Hearts Ministry. Deacon Greco explained that “I Thirst Young Adult” was part of SFHM’s Jesus Thirsts for America movement, which visits cities nationwide for Mass, usually with a bishop of the diocese, prayer and adoration, and presentations by talented Catholic speakers.


“In this time of many trials for our nation we want to bring the message of Jesus and the healing He brings to the Orange Diocese and dioceses throughout the country,” said Deacon Greco. “Our goal is to bring about metanoia, or a complete change of heart toward the Lord, among our participants.”

The speakers included Franciscan Friar of the Renewal Fr. Stan Fortuna, Dan DeMatte of Damascus Catholic Mission Campus, evangelist and filmmaker Jim Wahlberg and Benito Medrano, the Diocese of Orange Young Adults Director.

Wahlberg, brother of actors Mark and Donnie Wahlberg, told the story of his conversion. He grew up nominally Catholic in Boston, began abusing alcohol and drugs at a young age, and was twice sent to prison. Through the efforts of the prison chaplain, and with the help of a visit to the prison by Mother Teresa of Calcutta, he embraced the Catholic faith, and at age 57 has devoted his life to sharing the faith through film and public presentations.

Wahlberg remarked, “I have found that true joy comes not from having money or possessions, but from serving God.”

He’s excited to be part of the Jesus Thirsts for America movement, and for the remainder of his life he hopes to be “a useful and productive member of society, and one in which I get to be a reflection of God’s love for others.”

Bishop Freyer said he is also pleased to be part of the Jesus Thirsts for America movement, which he believes to be an effective evangelization tool. He celebrated Mass and spoke to participants at the movement’s first event, “I Thirst Orange County,” held at Christ Cathedral in November, which drew 1,500 attendees.

Deacon Greco and Spirit Filled Hearts Ministry, he said, are doing “amazing work.” He continued, “They want people to fall in love with the Lord. It has been a blessing to be affiliated with their efforts.” In March, SFHM held “I Thirst Los Angeles” and “I Thirst Fresno” events which drew thousands; Fresno Bishop Joseph Brennan celebrated Mass and delivered a presentation at the event.

Other upcoming events for the movement include an “I Thirst Birmingham” in Alabama in May, an “I Thirst Pentecost” in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, also in May, and an “I Thirst Hawaii” on the island of Oahu in July. For additional details, and to see images and video from previous “I Thirst” events, visit www.spiritfilledevents.com and click on the “I Thirst” tab. Click on the Donate tab to support future “I Thirst” events.

Deacon Greco remarked, “We’re excited about the success of our ‘I Thirst’ events so far and look forward to having an even greater impact in the upcoming months. We invite the prayers, participation and financial support of the people of the Diocese and encourage them to share the good news of the Jesus Thirsts for America movement with their family and friends.”