August 19, 2011

‘Called to Glory’

High school and college students invited to be part of two national events in Indianapolis celebrating Catholic faith

As the director of youth ministry for the archdiocese, Kay Scoville promotes the National Catholic Youth Conference that promises to draw about 25,000 people to Indianapolis in November for a celebration of the faith of high school students. (Photo by John Shaughnessy)

As the director of youth ministry for the archdiocese, Kay Scoville promotes the National Catholic Youth Conference that promises to draw about 25,000 people to Indianapolis in November for a celebration of the faith of high school students. (Photo by John Shaughnessy)

By John Shaughnessy

As an Indianapolis Colts fan, Kay Scoville would love to see the hometown team play in the 2012 Super Bowl on Feb. 5 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

Still, as the director of youth ministry for the archdiocese, Scoville is more focused these days on another major event that will take place at the Indianapolis stadium on Nov. 17-19—the National Catholic Youth Conference for high school students, which is expected to draw about 25,000 people from across the country.

Scoville believes the stakes are even higher for the November event, which has the theme “Called to Glory.”

(Related: Registration is under way for NCYC and National Catholic Collegiate Conference | More volunteers are needed to help with national Catholic conferences in November)

“With it being in the same venue as the Super Bowl, the conference is really going to look at, ‘What is glory? Do you see those athletes as representing glory?’ ” says Scoville, who is the archdiocese’s point person for this year’s NCYC.

“And yet, here we have a man hanging on a cross that we are all worshipping and praising. As Catholics, that’s our ‘call to glory’—to take up our cross and follow him, and for us to have eternal life with him eventually.”

On those same November days, the archdiocese will also serve as the host for the National Catholic Collegiate Conference in Indianapolis, an event that hopes to deepen the faith of young adults ages 18 to 25. The registration deadline for both events is Sept. 15.

The Criterion recently interviewed Scoville about these two major events, and her work for the archdiocese in youth ministry. Here is an edited version of that conversation.

Q. How do you think the upcoming National Catholic Youth Conference will be important to the faith of high school students?

A. “The NCYC is one of the best examples I’ve seen of so many youths coming together to express their faith. We as Catholics often hesitate in being evangelical or wanting to express our faith—especially the teens do.

“But when they are at NCYC, they are in their comfort zone with all the other Catholic teens. They can talk about Jesus. They can talk about the sacraments and talk about Mary. There’s just that connection. Usually, they go to church and they only see a couple of teens, maybe, in the pews. But to see all those teens together at NCYC, it’s amazing for them.”

Q. The National Catholic Collegiate Conference is new this year. Why did you also want to have a conference for young adults ages 18 to 25?

A. “So many of our young adult Catholics have gone to NCYC and had a great experience, and they want to come back. We don’t want them to repeat that experience. The thought was to have an experience that is different from NCYC, but that would still have the excitement and feel of a national celebration of faith.

“The young adults will have their own workshops, their own prayer space and their own liturgies. The biggest thing for them is to grow in their faith a step further. It’s a great frame of reference for them to see other young adults that are still practicing their faith, and still find it important in their lives.”

Q. What would you tell high school students and college students that would make them want to come to these events?

A. “Ten years ago, I was a brand new youth minister at St. Simon [the Apostle] Parish [in Indianapolis.] It was my first time at NCYC, and I was just blown away. They do a lot to draw the youth. They have a lot of great Catholic musicians, they have activities that are fun, and they have

service-oriented activities and great speakers. Still, when the youth leave NCYC, it’s the sacramental moments with the big crowds that they will always remember.

“You will not forget celebrating Mass with 20,000 other teens. It’s just unbelievable. We did adoration with 20,000 [youths] in Kansas City. And you could have heard a pin drop. Those are the experiences that kids take away. It’s really amazing. You can try all different things, but it’s still the basis of our faith that they really take away from it.”

Q. With these two events, what does it say about the Church’s desire to connect with teenagers and young adults?

A. “It’s a huge invitation to teenagers and young adults to know they are our Church. So many times, it’s phrased, ‘They are the future of our Church.’ But they are our Church. That affirms them. And hopefully it will excite them to go back to their parishes and continue the evangelization, the service and the excitement that they experienced when they were together.”

Q. The theme for this year’s conference is “Called to Glory.” Why was that theme chosen?

A. “The closing liturgy, which is on Nov. 19, is the vigil of the Feast of Christ the King. So the Gospel [reading] is from Matthew 26:31-46. It talks about the end of time and how Christ will divide the sheep from the goats, and we’ll be called to his glory, to be in the glory of Christ. That’s where the whole theme came from.”

Q. How did the archdiocese get to host this year’s National Catholic Youth Conference and National Catholic Collegiate Conference?

A. “We had hosted it in 1991 and 2001. It’s come back every 10 years. They look at venues that can hold large crowds. And 14 dioceses have easy access by bus to our city. They also really like the layout of the city, the easy access to the airport, the hotels downtown and the fact that they had a great experience here in 2001.

“I literally started in the archdiocese six years ago in January. It was just a week or two later when I found out we were hosting NCYC. I was a little overwhelmed by the whole idea. But it’s exciting. There’s a lot of buzz about it as it gets closer.”

Q. From your work in youth ministry, are there any special moments that stand out to you about the faith of young people—and the difference it makes to their lives and the lives of others?

A. “The ones that impact me the most are the ones I’ve encountered who were really struggling in their teen years. I’d walk that walk with them. There is one young person in particular who was really, really struggling with her whole home life. At the time, I didn’t know if this person would go to college or what kind of future she would have. But we’ve kept in touch.

“She’s returned to help with events. She went to a Catholic college, and she’s on a great path now. It’s always amazing when you watch that moment of conversion—when you meet a young person who feels they have no hope, and then they find their faith, and that’s what carries them through. That’s what youth ministry is about. As Pope Benedict XVI said, ‘Where’s there’s faith, there’s hope.’ ”

Q. From your experience, what approach works best in helping young people to grow in their faith?

A. “To meet them where they’re at. I’ve found that not one approach works best. I just see that from the different events we offer because they appeal to different youths. Some really are inspired by doing service for others so our Homeland Mission project works best—a week of service that gives them a sense of faith, a connection to the Eucharist and the need to do charitable works.

“I have others who would prefer to take a weekend retreat, to focus on themselves and the talks. For people who maybe aren’t as deep in their faith, I’d have them come to an event like NCYC so they could see other youths in action, and catch the energy and excitement from the other teens—to help them figure out what this is all about and why this is important in their life.

“The great thing about youth ministry is you’re constantly thinking about creative ways to meet them. The success of an event depends on whether they’ve had an encounter with Christ, whether they’ve opened themselves up to Christ. You’re always trying to figure out, ‘How would Christ minister to these kids?’ He always met people where they were at.” †

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