Sts. Simon & Jude Catholic parish in Huntington Beach recently held its latest XLT event on the parish grounds.

The purpose of XLT events is to focus on Jesus, spend time with Him and to speak with Him and Listen to Him.

XLT, which comes from “Exalt,” was started in 2000 by Paul George, a veteran youth minister, and Fr. Tim Hepburn of the Archdiocese of Atlanta. It is an evening of live worship and praise music, a guest speaker, adoration of the Eucharist and an opportunity to receive the sacrament of Reconciliation.

Originally, the target audience was teens and young adults.

“We wanted to take a ‘relational’ youth ministry (like Young Life’s approach for Christian adults to be present in teen’s lives outside the church environment at sporting events, plays, hikes, etc.) and combine it with Eucharistic worship,” Hepburn said.

In the 20+ years since its founding, XLT has been open to the faithful of all ages. From its beginnings in Atlanta, it has spread across the United States and as far away as Canada, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, the Caribbean and more.

“XLT: Revival,” as this most recent event was called, was purposely held outside, with attendees scattered about on their beach chairs.

“We wanted to make use of the beautiful California summer weather,” Andrew Watson, director of Confirmation, Youth and Young Adult Ministry at Sts. Simon & Jude explained. “In line with the national Eucharistic Revival theme, we felt called to worship outside the walls of the church building, be visible in the community and hope that our worship, adoration of Jesus and our presence in the parking lot of our church on a Friday evening might even begin a mini revival in the hearts of those who could see and hear us.”

The evening of Aug. 18 began with a welcome, followed by worship and praise music led by Catholic recording artist Cristina Bernal.

Deacon Bob Rice was the evening’s guest speaker. A husband and father of seven, he is a permanent deacon for the Diocese of Steubenville (Ohio) and professor of Catechetics at Franciscan University of Steubenville. Deacon Bob is also a popular author, musician and podcaster.

Deacon Bob selected a passage from the Gospel of John (1:14), “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.”

“In the Eucharist,” Deacon Bob said, “Jesus is still dwelling upon us. He meant it when He said, ‘I will be with you always.’ (Matthew 28:20) and everything He did two thousand years ago he is still doing today in the sacraments of the Catholic Church, most especially in the sacrament of the Eucharist.”

Deacon Bob reminded those that being blessed by the Eucharist is the highest form of blessing we can receive in this life.

“However, it is even better to receive Him. Our time in adoration of Jesus should increase our longing for consuming the Body of Jesus at Mass.

“The Word not only wishes to dwell among, but dwell within. What incredible love!”

Eucharistic adoration and confession were available to attendees as was an opportunity for fellowship.

Terry Thien of Huntington Beach attended the event with his wife Jodi.

“We have attended similar events for years,” Thien said. “But we really loved the praise and worship, especially when it includes Eucharistic adoration. It was an amazing faith-filled evening.”

Parochial Vicar Fr. Mike Rizzo was there to expose the Eucharist and hear confessions. About 75 or so were in attendance.

“People should feel a greater connection to Jesus and to one another,” Fr. Rizzo said. “The XLT event helps us to take a moment from our busy lives and devote some important time to our Lord.”

The next XLT event at Sts. Simon & Jude will be Friday, Nov. 10. For more information, go to: https://www.ssj.org/adult-faith-formation/