Youth Minister Mike Sylvester of St. Gregory the Great Parish in Bluffton, South Carolina, is seen on November 18, 2021, with some of the 23 youth he was leading at the National Catholic Youth Conference in Indianapolis. (CNS Photo / John Shaughnessy, The Criterion)
Catholic Information Service
INDIANAPOLIS – Angela Guynn always marvels at the transformation young people experience during the three days of the National Catholic Youth Conference.
“What they think they’re going to get out of it is different from what they get out of it,” said Guynn, youth group leader at St. Rita Parish in Indianapolis, who has again helped teens to chaperone on November 11 of this year. 18-20 Conference in Indianapolis.
“Just that there are children of the same age who believe it is okay to show their love for God, to share what they believe without being judged, that there are others who have questions on their faith, and others on whom they can rely, âshe added. .
Guynn smiled as he recalled the experience of a youth in his predominantly African-American parish, a youth whose only initial reason for coming to NCYC was that his mother had signed him up to attend.
âThe energy of that first night is revealing, from the music to the kids taking the stage by storm,â she said. âFor him, it was, ‘I love this! Can’t wait to do it again! ‘â
This energy – and this reaction from young people – fuels Guynn’s commitment to bringing more teens to the conference, which takes place every two years. And seeing NCYC’s impact on their faith deepens her faith as well.
“With all that has changed in the world, just helping young people on their journey helps me continue my faith,” she told Criterion, the archdiocesan newspaper of Indianapolis. âIt feels good to help others grow in their faith. “
This sentiment is widespread among adult group leaders and chaperones who embrace NCYC as a faith-affirming experience for themselves and their youth.
Mike Sylvester led 23 youth to the St. Gregory the Great Ward conference in Bluffton, South Carolina.
âComing from South Carolina, where the population is about 5% Catholic, for our young people to see the biggest church and be in a God-worshiping stage with so many people from all over the country, it’s amazing the impact that this has on them. Â», Declared Sylvester, the minister of youth of the parish.
âI’ve lost count of how many conferences I’ve attended, but I’ve seen the way they accept it, the way they take ownership of their faith. I am fed here too, âhe said. âThe faith, joy and energy of these children gives me hope, not only for the future of our church, but for today. These children are our present now. We have to affirm this as a church and celebrate it.
Kim Sprague and Lucy Herth have the same belief in the youth of the church. They have combined to lead 100 youth from four parishes in southern Indiana to NCYC this year: All Saints in Dearborn County, St. Lawrence in Lawrenceburg, St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception in Aurora and Ste. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross in Bright.
âI love to see the kids experience the bigger church,â Sprague said. âThey have a genuine joy in being surrounded by like-minded peers. You just see them being true to themselves, making Jesus their friend.
Herth also appreciates the continued impact NCYC has on young people after the three-day event ends.
âAny kid who’s been to NCYC wants to invite others to the next conference,â Herth said. “They have this joy when they see other children on fire for their faith, and they want to share that joy with others.”
Sprague added, “They’re not afraid to testify, to be more of a leader.”
She suffered the same impact.
âIt breathes new life into my ministry, just seeing the children come to life in their faith,â said Sprague. âSeeing them open up and let the Holy Spirit move in their lives during the three days at NCYC is a blessing. “
“It’s worth it,” she added.
Shaughnessy is associate editor of Criterion, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.