November 15, 2013

NCYC will offer youths chance to connect with God

By John Shaughnessy

Logo for the 2013 National Catholic Youth Conference in IndianapolisAt 17, Dana Wells has a special hope for the 21,000 youths who will attend the National Catholic Youth Conference (NCYC) in Indianapolis on Nov. 21-23.

It’s the same hope she had for herself when she first attended the event two years ago.

“I really didn’t have a relationship with God, and NCYC gave that to me,” says Dana, a member of St. John the Apostle Parish in Bloomington. “I feel that God was speaking to me through the weekend. There was a eucharistic adoration moment that was huge for me. It was my first really big moment with Christ. I felt he was calling me. I had the feeling I was his.”

What made the conference even more powerful for Dana was sharing that faith experience with thousands of Catholic teenagers from across the country and even around the world.

“I was surrounded by so many teens who were Catholic and so passionate about their faith,” says Dana, a junior at Edgewood High School. “I could count the number of Catholics who go to my school on one hand, and I live in a small town. So to be part of that many young Catholics, it was really overwhelming to see how big the Church is.”

Dana’s experience reflects the goals that organizers—and the 34 bishops who are expected to attend the event—have for this year’s national conference.

“This year’s conference falls on the feast of Christ the King, and is the conclusion of the Year of Faith,” says Kay Scoville, who leads the archdiocese’s efforts for the conference. “We hope we can help the young Church start a faith journey that can lead to a relationship with Jesus Christ, our King.”

The theme of this year’s conference—“Signed, Sealed, Delivered”—will be featured during three days of workshops, faith experiences, music performances and activities at an interactive theme park at the Indiana Convention Center and Lucas Oil Stadium.

“The youths will learn that they are signed by the waters of their baptism as children of God, sealed by the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and delivered by Christ’s redemptive action on the cross,” says Scoville, archdiocesan director of youth ministry. “They will learn that Jesus is a king like no other who loves them unconditionally and wants to have a relationship with them.”

She hopes the conference will connect with young Catholics who she realizes will be at different stages in their relationship with God.

“For those questioning their faith, I hope that a seed is planted to help them have a better understanding of their Catholic faith, and a desire to embrace it,” she says.

“For those with an acceptance of their faith, I hope the enthusiasm that this environment offers will light the fire within them to want to dig deeper and share with others when they return to their parishes and schools. And for those who are already on fire for their faith, I hope that they will be inspired to be the conduits for the new evangelization.”

Scoville is especially excited that 2,000 youths from the archdiocese will be participating in the conference.

“I am impacted by the youths as I witness their embrace of their faith,” she says. “Their willingness to share with others has offered me hope for our Catholic Church.” †

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