November 18, 2005

Youth Supplement

Jesus called thousands of teens to national conference

By Meredith Riley
Special to The Criterion

As nearly 20,000 teenagers gathered in Atlanta on Oct. 28-30 for the National Catholic Youth Conference, many people were asking the question: Why? Why would so many teenagers, some paying more than $400, take time out of their busy schedules and hectic lives to travel hundreds of miles on a crowded bus? For the youth, the answer was simple: Jesus was calling.

After meeting in New Albany on Oct. 26 for games and Mass, the archdiocese sent eight buses of teenagers and youth leaders on their faith-filled journey. Arriving in Atlanta early on Oct. 27, the youth spent time getting to know the city and meeting teens from other dioceses.

On Thursday evening, opening ceremonies began as the Georgia Dome filled with young people from across the country. Music rang through the whole dome as the youth sang out their praises to God.

On Friday and Saturday, different sessions were offered to address issues that teenagers face in daily life. Talks were given on the Eucharist, poverty, morality, dating, discipleship and much more. The Thematic Park, in the Georgia World Congress Center, featured exhibits about colleges, vocation information, vendors, sports, games, arts and crafts, many

different organizations around the country, and opportunities for service projects.

“I really enjoyed the exhibitors, and the chastity talk by Jason Evert was really cool,” said Zach Sinkus, a member of St. Monica Parish in Indianapolis.

Reconciliation was offered throughout the day, and at one point the line got so long that they had to call in extra priests to administer the sacrament. Keynote speakers included Tammy Evevard, Tony Melendez, Jesse Manibusan, and Bishop Gordon D. Bennett of Mandelville, Jamaica. Musical performances by Ceili Rain, John Angotti, Cheer Up Charlie, Righteous B and many others showed the variety of styles of Christian music.

The closing Mass on Saturday night marked the end of NCYC 2005. The procession of hundreds of priests was led by liturgical dancers carrying incense. With the choir and congregation chanting “Veni Creator Spiritus,” the mood was set for a beautifully reverent liturgy.

“Closing Mass was amazing!” said Lauren Fetsko, a member Our Lady of the Greenwood Parish in Greenwood. “It was awesome to see so much participation and everyone getting excited for the Lord. The stadium was packed!”

(Meredith Riley is a member of St. Rose of Lima Parish in Franklin.)


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