November 24, 2023

National Catholic Youth Conference 2023

Bishop Cozzens: NCYC is a preview of the National Eucharistic Congress next summer in Indianapolis

Bishop Andrew H. Cozzens of Crookston, Minn., speaks before the National Catholic Youth Congress’ closing Mass on Nov. 18 about next summer’s National Eucharistic Congress in Indianapolis. (Photo by Sean Gallagher)

Bishop Andrew H. Cozzens of Crookston, Minn., speaks before the National Catholic Youth Congress’ closing Mass on Nov. 18 about next summer’s National Eucharistic Congress in Indianapolis. (Photo by Sean Gallagher)

First of two parts | See part two

By Sean Gallagher

As Bishop Joseph A. Espaillat of the Archdiocese of New York processed into Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis with the Blessed Sacrament in a monstrance, thousands of youths fell to their knees in adoration.

It was Friday night at the National Catholic Youth Conference (NCYC), when there is ordinarily eucharistic adoration and Benediction.

Bishop Andrew H. Cozzens of Crookston, Minn., walked in the procession with Bishop Espaillat into the stadium turned into a massive place of worship.

For Bishop Cozzens, adoration on Nov. 17 and NCYC’s closing Mass the following night, at which he was the principal celebrant, was a preview of the National Eucharistic Congress to be held in Indianapolis on

July 17-21 next year. Bishop Cozzens has led the National Eucharistic Revival and the planning for the eucharistic congress.

He spoke with The Criterion earlier in the day before the closing liturgy about his experience of the love the teens at NCYC showed for Christ in the Eucharist and how it was encouraging for the eucharistic revival and eucharistic congress.

The following interview has been edited for clarity and content.

Q: What were your impressions from being present during the time of adoration in the stadium?

A: “It was inspiring to be there, especially with the young people. Of course, I was praying for them, but also for the eucharistic revival and for the eucharistic congress. There was just a sense of the Lord wanting to continue to bless the young people and our country through a love of the Eucharist.

“It was beautiful to be up on the stage praying before the Blessed Sacrament surrounded by 12,000 young people.”

Q: The Eucharist has long been at the heart of NCYC. What can the rest of the Church in the U.S. learn from the witness of the teens’ encounter with Christ in the Eucharist at this conference?

A: “It’s part of what we’re trying to do in the eucharistic revival. Those of us who have been doing youth ministry for the past two decades have seen this reality. Young people love to be with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. Many of them actually come to understand the Mass through adoration.

“They come to encounter Jesus in his presence in adoration, and then it draws them into the Mass. So, they start to go to Mass more.

“It’s a beautiful thing, too, that teens come to know the love of Jesus and want to express their emotion and their devotion toward him. It can have an impact on their whole life. It’s also the reason why we as a Church have to be involved with young people. It’s when people are young that they make their most important decisions in their life.

“The Church has a responsibility to be there to present Christ to them so that, as they’re making those vocational choices and deciding what they’re going to do for the rest of their life, they know Christ and can be a part of it. That’s the beauty of NCYC and other youth events in the Church. We can accompany youths at those important moments.”

Q: How might what happens at NCYC be a way for Catholics in the U.S. to anticipate what will happen in Indianapolis next July in the National Eucharistic Congress?

A: “Since I landed in Indianapolis [before NCYC], I was filled with a desire to pray and an enthusiasm for what Indianapolis means for the Church right now because of the coming eucharistic congress. We’re going to have a huge impact on the Church here.

“These kinds of events can be life-transforming. Look at the event of World Youth Day in Denver and what that did for the Church in the United States. So, NCYC is kind of a foretaste of that. It’s why I love coming. This event is a rare opportunity for our young people to have an experience of Christ and his Church that they can’t have elsewhere.

“The eucharistic congress is going to be that. It’s going to be a rare opportunity to have an experience of Christ and his Church that you can’t have elsewhere and that we haven’t had in the United States in decades. It’s going to be an event centered on the heart of our Church, which is the Eucharist, where the Church herself in all her cultures and races, her beautiful diversity, gathers together to celebrate this gift that makes us one.

“Seeing the power of this event certainly helps me to remember the power of the event that we’re planning.”

Q: What can the organizers of the eucharistic congress learn from NCYC to make it more effective in drawing Catholics from across the country into a deeper relationship with Christ and each other through the Eucharist?

A: “There are members of our team who are here this weekend. They’re scouting everything and watching everything. NCYC has been great to give us full-access passes for our team so they can learn from what’s happening here and how they do it and what they do. That’s been a huge help.

“One of the reasons why we chose Indianapolis is because of the positive experience of NCYC. Even in the bishops’ minds, they’re used to coming here for this kind of an event. They know that this is a good city for events.

“We’re significantly larger than NCYC, so we have challenges that they probably don’t have. But there certainly is a lot that we can learn from how they do what they do. We just have to multiply it.”

(For more information on the National Eucharistic Revival, visit For more information on the National Eucharistic Congress, including on how to purchase tickets for it, visit

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