November 29, 2019

National Catholic Youth Conference 2019

Apostolic nuncio exhorts young people at NCYC to know that Christ is alive

Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States, speaks on Nov. 22 in Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis to the 20,000 people attending the National Catholic Youth Conference. (Photo by Sean Gallagher)

Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States, speaks on Nov. 22 in Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis to the 20,000 people attending the National Catholic Youth Conference. (Photo by Sean Gallagher)

By Sean Gallagher

Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States, told the 20,000 young people attending the National Catholic Youth Conference (NCYC) on Nov. 22 in Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis that Pope Francis had shared with him his desire to be in Indianapolis with them.

The only problem was, the pope was scheduled to visit Thailand and Japan during the biennial youth conference.

“So, he said to me, ‘Go to Indianapolis and speak in my name,’ ” Archbishop Pierre recalled.

The nuncio then shared with his listeners a message for them from the pope given to him by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State.

“The Holy Father asks young people to discern—that’s a very important word—prayerfully—another important word,” Archbishop Pierre said. “When you pray, you ask the Lord what he wants for you today, how the Lord is calling you to a way of life marked by generous self-giving and faithful discipleship so that you may serve the Church and those most in need with joy and love.”

After sharing this message, Archbishop Pierre reflected on Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation released earlier this year, “Christus Vivit” (“Christ is Alive”), on youth and vocational discernment.

During his remarks, he interacted often with his listeners, asking them questions, making jokes, often to much cheering.

Describing his young listeners as “the now of God,” Archbishop Pierre exhorted them to be missionaries.

“You are the most important part of the Church,” he said to cheers. “You are the missionaries of the Church, missionaries to your friends, missionaries to your families, missionaries to the old people, missionaries to the priests. You know, the priests, they need to have you on their side, and also the bishops.”

Archbishop Pierre reflected on a quote from St. Francis de Sales, a French saint who died in 1622. “Be who you are and be that well to give honor to the Master Craftsman whose handiwork you are.”

“You are all beautiful people,” Archbishop Pierre said. “You know, you are not beautiful because of you, but because God made you beautiful. This is the difference. So, we are proud to be who we are, because God made us who we are. And we are faithful to the will of God, to honor the Craftsman whose handiwork you are.”

He later spoke about the three primary truths of the faith that Pope Francis said in his exhortation that young people should remember for themselves and proclaim to others through their lives: God love you; God is your Savior; God is alive.

“God loves you,” Archbishop Pierre said, later quoting the exhortation. “He loves you even if, at times, you sin and disappoint him or others. Pope Francis asks you to ‘trust that the memory of God is not a hard disk that saves and archives all your data.’ No. This is not the mindset of God. His memory is a heart filled with tender compassion, one that finds joy in deleting every trace of evil’ ” (#115).

In sharing with his listeners the importance of knowing God as our Savior, Archbishop Pierre said that the pope wants them to have their “eyes fixed on the outstretched arms of the Crucified One. He reconciles and saves.”

“So spend time watching him, contemplating him,” Archbishop Pierre said. “Your prayer should be just looking at the cross, because from the cross comes love. And we all need to be loved and saved.”

Finally, the nuncio turned to the truth that Christ is alive.

“This is the essence of Christian faith,” Archbishop Pierre said. “Death does not have the last word. Jesus is risen. He is alive. He is alive in your life—in your life.”

In his parting words, he complimented those attending NCYC and had a message for the Catholics of central and southern Indiana.

“My young friends, I’m impressed because you are here, because the Church is here,” Archbishop Pierre said. “And the Church is the body of Christ. It is the sacrament of his presence in this place.

“I would like to say to the archbishop of Indianapolis [Charles C. Thompson] that we are blessed today. So also are you a blessing for the Church in this archdiocese.

“So, something is happening here. You can feel it in the air. Christ is here. He is alive in you. May he live always in you. And may you be blessed, broken and given to our world so that it may be more merciful.” †


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