November 24, 2017

National Catholic Youth Conference 2017

Archdiocese and Indianapolis rise again to welcome 20,000 Catholic youths

Scott Williams, archdiocesan director of youth ministry, prepares on Nov. 17 to take part in another NCYC session in Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. (Photo by John Shaughnessy)

Scott Williams, archdiocesan director of youth ministry, prepares on Nov. 17 to take part in another NCYC session in Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. (Photo by John Shaughnessy)

By John Shaughnessy

For the fourth straight time, the archdiocese and the city of Indianapolis hosted the National Catholic Youth Conference (NCYC) on Nov. 16-18, welcoming 20,000 teenagers from across the country who hoped to deepen their faith and their relationship with God.

So how has the archdiocese and the city continued to be the host for this defining Catholic experience for young people?

Start with the fact that the biennial gathering has usually been blessed with the commitment of nearly 1,000 volunteers from across the archdiocese and extensive planning from the archdiocesan staff that coordinates the local elements of the event.

“There is something about our archdiocese and the volunteer base that we have,” says Scott Williams, the director of youth ministry for the archdiocese who also leads the local steering committee for NCYC.

“We deploy over 1,000 volunteers, and people love it. Our vocations office, our liturgy office and our youth ministry office have all worked on this seamlessly for the past several years. And we’ve had the same people in leadership roles, for the most part, implementing the key areas that we develop. It’s not something we just do; it’s something that we’re really passionate about.”

Geography and “the flow” of the city’s downtown area also make Indianapolis a desirable destination for the conference, according to Williams.

He notes that 75 percent of the country can travel to Indianapolis by bus within a day—a reality that helps cut down the travel costs of large groups of youths attending NCYC.

Downtown Indianapolis is also “one of the most walkable cities in the world,” he notes, and that attribute is enhanced by the largeness and the closeness of two first-class facilities that are the hubs for the conference—the Indiana Convention Center and Lucas Oil Stadium.

The stadium served as the gathering space for all the conference participants during general sessions and the closing Mass.

The convention center was the conference’s meeting place for workshop sessions, reconciliation, eucharistic adoration and a huge “Thematic Village” where the youths enjoyed music, games, comedy shows and opportunities for service projects.

Add all the ingredients together, and it made for another memorable, faith-filled weekend for the more than 20,000 youths, including about 1,600 teenagers from the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.

“Serving the young Church is something that we as an archdiocese are committed to,” Williams says. “It’s something that Archbishop Emeritus [Daniel M.] Buechlein initially championed. The first time Indianapolis hosted NCYC was in 2001. It came back in ‘11, and then for ‘13 and ’15, and this year.

“The conference is truly remarkable. We talk in youth ministry that we don’t always see the fruits of our labor. And we are planting a lot of seeds this week. But we also see some incredible fruit that grows in these three high-intensity days.” †

 

(See all of our NCYC 2017 news coverage here)

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