November 5, 2021

Pastoral Ministry / Paul Sifuentes

NCYC provides much spiritual fruit for our parishes

Paul SifuentesMany parishes and its young people are once again getting ready and excited for the National Catholic Youth Conference (NCYC) in Indianapolis on Nov. 18-20. Every two years, it is the largest gathering of our archdiocesan high school youths. This year, we have more than 1,000 pilgrims in our archdiocesan delegation from throughout central and southern Indiana.

I am very excited about this year’s conference theme: Ablaze! The conference will have our young people enter into the story of the early Church, and the days after Jesus ascended into heaven and his disciples waiting for the Advocate whom he promised he would send.

They were in the upper room when “a sound came from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting” (Acts 2:2). This familiar story tells us how next these Apostles went forth from the room filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in the different languages of those who gathered for the feast of Pentecost. Peter then steps up to deliver a powerful witness that ends in 3,000 people being baptized that day!

Now, we are not expecting 3,000 people to be baptized at NCYC this year, but we are expecting the Holy Spirit to descend upon our gathering. We are expecting powerful encounters with our Lord.

Since our last NCYC gathering in 2019, things have been far from normal—and that is an understatement! Many of our youths have spent time in their own “upper room” as they quarantined and/or attended school remotely. This year’s NCYC is a reminder that God enters into all of it. God finds us where we are, and God enters into our story.

As our youths have their own powerful encounters during that weekend, the question we need to ask is: “What community are they returning to?”

I believe we can find the answer we desire in the Acts of the Apostles right after the 3,000 people are baptized. “They devoted themselves to the teaching of the Apostles and to the communal life, to the breaking of the bread and to the prayers” (Acts 2:42).

As our youths return from NCYC, it is critically important that these experiences are not something that separate them from our parish communities. We need to show our young people that their experiences are essential to the life of our community. Here are four ways you can help our young people as they return to the “real world” after NCYC.

  • Ask what was one takeaway they gained from NCYC, what speakers they remember and what messages resonated with them.
  • Ask if there is anything you can pray for them about after this experience.
  • If you know a youth that participated in NCYC, they might be a great candidate to invite into a liturgical minister role at Mass. A personal invitation goes a long away, and if they say “yes,” make sure to help them through the process.
  • Often, youth ministers will hold an NCYC recap night for the parish. Make sure you attend, and if the parish doesn’t have one, gather some adults and offer to make a meal, so the youths can get together and share their experience.

NCYC is such a gift to our local community, and I believe as a Church we have a great opportunity to feed off this energy and see much spiritual fruit in our parishes.

If you are interested in learning more and want help connecting with youths from your parish attending NCYC, reach out to parish’s youth ministry leader or feel free to e-mail me at

(Paul Sifuentes is the director of youth ministry for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.)

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