November 27, 2015

Editorial

NCYC helps young Church grow in their lives of faith

The largest parish in the United States, as Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin of Indianapolis called it, gathered to grow in their lives of faith over the weekend.

And we can vouch that it was quite a celebration.

More than 23,000 teenagers attended the biennial National Catholic Youth Conference (NCYC) at the Indiana Convention Center and Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis on Nov. 19-21, and we came away realizing many of our young people are eager to embrace Christ and be a beacon of light to our world. (See our news coverage here)

Presented by the National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry and hosted by the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, the three-day pilgrimage of faith reminded young people they are never alone as they face life’s challenges. It also served as a refresher for their chaperones—and the speakers, musicians, priests, bishops, deacons, seminarians and religious in attendance—that teenagers can get really excited about their faith when given the opportunity.

High school student Mikaila Heavrin, a member of St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Clarksville, said of NCYC, “It’s been overwhelming. It’s made me realize there’s a lot of work that can be done, and it’s opened my eyes to God more.”

Patrick O’Herron, Jr., a high school senior from the Diocese of Helena, Mont., said the conference was “a life-changing experience,” and was impressed by “the real embrace of everybody’s faith coming together in one place.”

The theme of this year’s gathering, “Here I Am Lord” (“Aquí Estoy Señor”), implored the teens to put Jesus Christ at the center of all they do, and to partake of the sacraments—especially receiving the Eucharist and taking part in the sacrament of penance—to strengthen them as they move forward and live out their Catholic faith.

“The Church is never more Church than when we gather around the altar,” Archbishop Tobin told the thousands of teenagers during the opening session at Lucas Oil Stadium on Nov. 19. “It’s at the altar when we are truly the family of God, gathered around his word and receiving his sacrament.

“It’s at the altar where we get the strength to keep on keeping on,” he added.

“Keeping on” is a challenge many of the young people cited as they discussed the struggles and uncertainties they face in their families, in friendships, at school and in the world.

Knowing that many of their peers feel the same pressures helped the young people realize they are not alone.

“One of the messages during a breakout session was coming together as a community as ‘we,’ ” explained Madison Holden, a high school senior from the Diocese of Pittsburgh. “Even in this large NCYC meeting, we find individualism, and it’s not always embraced. We learned to embrace all of that, and to include everybody—whether you’re from Honolulu or Maine. It doesn’t matter. We’re all brothers and sisters in Christ.”

While many of the young people attended Mass each day during NCYC, the lines to go to confession were long as well.

The energy, emotions and electricity created by the teens at the gathering were evident, too. As at past NCYC gatherings, they traded hats, hugs and high fives. Clothespins were a popular tradeable this year, too. Many young people included their names and home parish on theirs.

At the closing liturgy on Nov. 21, Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga of Tegucigalpa, Honduras, reminded the young people what they learned must be carried and shared with others.

“This is not the end,” he said. “This is the beginning of another stage when you will go back to your places in order to spread the kingdom of Jesus Christ.”

We pray that the teenagers embrace Cardinal Rodriguez’s charge, helping bring much-needed light to the world.

—Mike Krokos

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