Christ Cathedral



By LOU PONSI     2/13/2024

Over 1,000 students from six Orange County Catholic high schools attended the first ever “Transformed,” an I Thirst event, on Jan. 29 at the Christ Cathedral campus.

The day-long celebration of the Eucharist featured speakers and music geared towards high school students, along with powerful testimonies from students who shared examples of the transformative power of the Eucharist in their lives.

“Transformed” was organized to complement to the I Thirst Orange County celebration, which was held at Christ Cathedral in November as the official kickoff to the Jesus Thirsts for America tour.

The tour is a companion movement to the National Eucharistic Revival, which features events at the diocesan and parish levels and will culminate with the National Eucharistic Congress to be held from July 17 to 21 in Indianapolis.

High Schools represented were Mater Dei, Santa Margarita, Rosary Academy, Servite, Christo Rey and JSerra.

“I think the idea was these Catholic school students never really get together as a community and be motivated in faith,” said Armando Cervantes, Director of Youth & Young Adults for the Diocese of Orange and one of the main organizers for the conference. “They’re obviously in their theology classes, some are involved in campus ministry, but I think that the goal was to bring together our Catholic school students, and sure enough, almost a thousand came in, representing all six schools.”

One of the most impactful student testimonies was delivered by Servite senior Luke Greenlee, who said he began feeling the presence of Christ in the Eucharist while praying during a confirmation class in his freshman year.

“Like never before, I felt this immense peace,” Greenlee said. “It was just in this moment I knew where Christ was present in the Eucharist, and I felt his presence in that room.”

In August of his senior year, Greenlee was driving from Servite to a friend’s house when he got a call from his mother who told him that his 21-year-old brother, Matthew, was involved in an accident in Arizona and sustained a life-threatening brain injury.

Greenlee rushed to Arizona with his family and recalled praying the Rosary in his brother’s hospital room when he was overcome with the same feeling of calmness he had experienced during confirmation class as a freshman.

“I knew that Christ was with me again,” Greenlee said. “I had that peace.”

Days later, Matthew died.

While saying his final goodbyes, Greenlee told Matthew how thankful he was for having his brother in his life.

“For a solid two minutes, maybe three, I was speaking to him, and I knew God was with me in that room just like in the Eucharist,” Greenlee said. “All my stress was gone. My brother was dying, and I felt immeasurable peace. I looked across the bed at my dad and said, ‘it’s going to be ok. Christ is with us.’”

Guest speakers for the event included David Calavitta, director of marketing for Life Teen, a Catholic Youth Ministry. Calavitta is known for his ability to connect with Catholic youth.

“Our goal is to really push Jesus from a subject into a relationship and in this setting, it can be very challenging, but I think the greater the challenge, the greater the fruit,” Calavitta said. “I think any effort that would begin to make the reality of the Eucharist more accessible to someone is going to bear a lot of fruit.”

The students also celebrated Mass in the cathedral. The celebrant was Bishop Timothy Freyer.

“The conference was meant to fire up the students into recognizing the Eucharist and the power that it has and is capable of having in their life,” said event organizer Nanci
De La Rosa-Ricco, executive assistant to Erin Barisano, Superintendent of Catholic Schools for the Diocese of Orange.