November 25, 2011

Fun and faith draw Catholic teens to Victory Park at youth conference

Tierra Scott, front, and Savannah Burton carve their names into a wall made of 2,000 pounds of clay in the Creative Corner section of Victory Park, a theme park of fun and faith at the National Catholic Youth Conference in Indianapolis on Nov. 17. The teenagers are members of Holy Trinity Parish in Glenburnie, Md., in the Archdiocese of Baltimore. (Photo by John Shaughnessy)

Tierra Scott, front, and Savannah Burton carve their names into a wall made of 2,000 pounds of clay in the Creative Corner section of Victory Park, a theme park of fun and faith at the National Catholic Youth Conference in Indianapolis on Nov. 17. The teenagers are members of Holy Trinity Parish in Glenburnie, Md., in the Archdiocese of Baltimore. (Photo by John Shaughnessy)

By John Shaughnessy

One of the most popular places during the National Catholic Youth Conference was Victory Park, a theme park inside the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis that featured everything from games and free gifts to college information and a coffee-house setting for music.

Here are glimpses of five of the most popular activities that teenagers enjoyed during the conference on Nov. 17-19.

Posing with the pope—The opportunity to get a picture taken with Pope Benedict XVI was just too irresistible for many teenagers, including Brenden Popson and Sam Murphy of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in New Albany.

It didn’t even matter that it was just a cardboard figure of the pope. When asked why he wanted the souvenir photo, Brenden shared a sentiment similar to other teenagers: “Why not? He’s here for pictures!”

Leaving a mark—The Creative Corner was a section of Victory Park where many teenagers embraced the opportunity to paint a small canvas, sign a 9-foot-high graffiti wall, carve their names into a wall made of 2,000 pounds of clay, and dip their hands in paint so they could make an imprint on a 24-foot-tall canvas tree.

“The kids love to leave their mark,” said Dave Gehrich, an adult volunteer in the Creative Corner who is a member of St. Maurice Parish in Decatur County. “They love to let people know they are here.”

Getting silly with the Salesians—Hoping to win a yo-yo, beach ball or flying disc, teenagers flocked to a carnival-like area staffed by Salesian sisters, brothers and priests. Prizes were earned for such achievements as bouncing a marble into a thimble, knocking down milk bottles with bean bags, throwing metal rings onto a bottle’s neck, and knocking over soda cans by shooting rubber bands.

Being a kid—The fun continued in the play area of Victory Park where teenagers jumped in a moon bounce, competed in a human foosball game, jousted with large padded sticks, and raced through an inflated obstacle course.

Chalking it up to the power of music—More than 45 singers and bands performed in a coffee house furnished in comfortable couches and chairs with tables made of black chalkboard. Each table had a bucket of colored chalk which teenagers could use to draw artwork and write messages. One message read, “May the pieces of our lives be an offering to you! From Iowa with love!”†

 

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