October 4, 2013

More adult volunteers needed to assist at NCYC

National Catholic Youth Conference participants, from left, Isaac Owen, Tommy Gunderson, Andrew Eilert and Steven Gunderson from St. John the Baptist Parish in Beloit, Kan., in the Diocese of Salina, Kan., pray during the closing Mass on Nov. 19, 2011, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. (File photo by Mary Ann Garber)

National Catholic Youth Conference participants, from left, Isaac Owen, Tommy Gunderson, Andrew Eilert and Steven Gunderson from St. John the Baptist Parish in Beloit, Kan., in the Diocese of Salina, Kan., pray during the closing Mass on Nov. 19, 2011, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. (File photo by Mary Ann Garber)

By John Shaughnessy

Kevin McNulty gets excited as he talks about the impact of volunteering at an event where 23,000 Catholic youths from across the country celebrate their faith.

Recalling the National Catholic Youth Conference (NCYC) in Indianapolis in 2011, McNulty notes, “What was really neat was watching the adults who were volunteering for the first time. They may have signed up for one or two shifts, but they just kept coming back for more shifts because they were so enthralled by the young Catholic Church and the energy of the young Catholic Church.

“They found out that the benefit of volunteering was more for them than the kids because it rejuvenated their own faith.”

Adults will have another opportunity to volunteer at the National Catholic Youth Conference when it returns to Indianapolis on Nov. 21-23.

Ken Weisenbach admits to getting tears in his eyes when he recalls how volunteering during the 2011 conference changed his view of the Church.

“It was an experience I wish everybody could have,” says Weisenbach, a father of two teenagers and a member of St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Morris in the Batesville Deanery. “Listening to the news on television and in the papers, I thought the Church was dead. The news is all ‘doom and gloom.’ Then I walked in there, and there were 23,000 kids. I saw the Church is alive.

“They weren’t forced to be there. They were just normal kids who wanted to be there. They were proud of who they are, and they were full of life. It was such an eye-opener. It shocked me.”

The event had such an impact on him that he will return as a volunteer again—this time for at least two days and maybe all three.

“It’s that powerful to me to be part of it.”

McNulty shares that feeling.

After volunteering at the event in 2011, McNulty signed up as a volunteer coordinator this time—viewing his role as an extension of his volunteer efforts in the youth ministry program at St. Matthew the Apostle Parish in Indianapolis.

He knows firsthand that an adult’s involvement in the faith life of a young person can be defining for both people.

“Eight or nine years ago, I was a confirmation sponsor,” says McNulty, a father of two teenagers. “The next year, the youth minister asked if I would join the confirmation team for the parish. So I did. I went to Catholic grade school, high school and college, but from the time I was 20 to the time I was 40, I really wasn’t engaged in my faith. And I didn’t want that to happen to someone else.

“When you walk into a room of youths, they are all over the map as far as their faith walk. One adult can make such a difference. I’ve always felt compelled to look for that one kid who needs help in continuing their faith journey. To hear from an adult that its OK to love your faith, that can be vital to that youth. It’s completely worth it if I can help one child continue their faith walk with God.”

McNulty believes that volunteering at the National Catholic Youth Conference will also be rewarding for the 1,000 people who are needed during the event.

“It’s such a great experience for the kids,” he says. “And watching them grow in their faith is great for the volunteers, too.”
 

(To sign up as a volunteer or to get more information about volunteering at the National Catholic Youth Conference, visit the website, www.archindy.org. On the front page of the website, click on the icon for “2013 NCYC” then click on “volunteer page.”)

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