November 27, 2015

National Catholic Youth Conference 2015

Adoration, Prayer Corner offer opportunity for many forms of prayer

National Catholic Youth Conference participants pray before the Blessed Sacrament on Nov. 20 in the adoration chapel at the Indiana Convention Center. (Photo by Natalie Hoefer)

National Catholic Youth Conference participants pray before the Blessed Sacrament on Nov. 20 in the adoration chapel at the Indiana Convention Center. (Photo by Natalie Hoefer)

By Natalie Hoefer

When 23,000 youths come together, “quiet” is not an adjective often used to describe the scene.

But quiet was accomplished for the teens at the National Catholic Youth Conference (NCYC) on Nov. 19-21 in Indianapolis as they took advantage of the conference’s ample opportunities to experience various forms of prayer.

An Indiana Convention Center room designated as an adoration chapel was the scene of a constant wave of quiet motion as youths, adults, priests and religious filtered in and out to adore Christ in the Blessed Sacrament.

Whether as groups or individuals, some stayed for a few minutes, others for an hour or more.

“I just came from confession,” said Jessi Brintnall of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Mo. “Adoration is one of my favorite things to do, just to be able to be close to the Lord and be able to talk to him. It was a really good hour—I feel awesome!”

But there are many other forms of prayer, a fact made obvious at the Prayer Corner of NCYC’s thematic park, Camp Tekakwitha.

Andrew Miller, associate director of vocations for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis and a member of the thematic park team, explained the role of the Prayer Corner.

“The Prayer Corner is to give kids an experiential opportunity, a chance to not only maybe sit and pray, but to maybe have an interactive form of prayer,” said Miller. “We wanted tactile things, things they could touch, and [for them] to be able to be loud, to talk and interact with others while they’re praying.”

A walk through the Prayer Corner proved all the above to be true. In one area, youths collected and compared prayers from a makeshift tree.

Nearby, several teens wrote prayers on four boards, each board sporting one letter of the word ACTS—representing the acronym for the prayer forms of adoration, contrition, thanksgiving and supplication.

“I wrote a prayer of supplication for my friend’s grandpa who just went in the hospital, and a prayer of thanksgiving for all the family and friends God put in my life,” said Emma Cherwimski of the Diocese of Gaylord, Mich.

Next to the prayer boards, youths wrote prayers on colorful strips of cloth then tied them to strands of string.

Overhead, signs recommended forms of prayer for various personality types. Enthusiastic and adventurous? Try praying in a place where nature abounds, and glorify God for the beauty. Compassionate and creative? Pick a psalm where God is speaking to the people of Israel, then replace “Israel” with your own name and contemplate the psalm’s message.

Some youths sat quietly in a makeshift prayer garden, while others lit candles to offer up prayers.

Perhaps the most impactful form of tactile prayer was the 90-pound wooden cross beam hanging from the ceiling, giving participants an opportunity to feel the weight of the cross on their own shoulders and contemplate its impact on Christ during his Passion.

“It was tough,” admitted Cambron Sims of the Diocese of Pueblo, Colo. “I was hurting, and then I imagined wearing the crown of thorns and having been beaten, and walking about a mile. It really touches you.”

Nick Ford, a member of St. Andrew the Apostle Parish in Indianapolis, was visibly moved by the experience.

“I can’t imagine doing something like that, and to do it for people who act like they hate you,” he said. “And touching the crown of thorns” on a pedestal next to the hanging beam, “I think that had the biggest effect on me. Just one touch and I could feel it all.”

As Alex Hunter of the Diocese of Gaylord left the Prayer Corner, she reflected on her time there.

“I prayed for my family and friends, for God to be with them always,” she said. “[The Prayer Corner was] really peaceful. It’s nice to have some time with God with everything that’s going on at NCYC.” †

 

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