National Catholic Youth Conference
The event was held in Indianapolis. Because there are seven hotels all connecting to the enormous convention center, no one goes outside. It’s like living in a giant hamster habitat with 26,000 teens from every state including Alaska and Hawaii. The delegations are not schools, they are from parishes, so some delegations are small to large. In four days I never heard or saw any profanity, and while there is crowd noise, there was never any obnoxious noise one often hears in a hotel. I never saw or heard anything inappropriate. They had dynamic speakers with hard hitting topics that challenged them, movies, games, Catholic colleges from everywhere, religious orders, and tons of free stuff. It is probably the best vocations recruitment any parish could ask for. And they have a great time.
I was impressed by the number of bishops that came. Part of the huge park included (in addition to a climbing wall and ropes course) meditation gardens, stations, confession, and Bishop’s Cove. Frequent announcements told what bishop from what diocese was in the Bishop Cove, so his group could show up and visit with him. How cool is that, to know your bishop is more than a Confirmation figure? One daily Mass I attended had so many priests and bishops the processional took two hymns!
A huge draw was the booth next to us, the Meinrad Archabbey and Monastery. The monks captivated them. They had made a display that could probably be called an unbooth. The kids loved it, and since one of the monks was a computer guy, they tended to flock here to “get your monk on,” “honor your inner monk,” and get a free computer app to pray with the monks twice a day. Lots of questions; lots of interest in what they do, how they live, what kind of schooling….Whenever I passed the sisters’ tables I saw girls there talking to the sisters.
One day a Latin Mass was scheduled. The organizers, thinking there wouldn’t be much interest, scheduled it in a break-out room that only seats 150. They were hoping to get maybe 30. Over 300 kids packed the room and the hall outside, seating themselves on the floor in neat rows in the corridor. I also took a photo of the long line of blue jeans standing in line for confession. When did you last see that happen?
Helping Hands had a huge area with pallets of rice bags, many tables and work space of gloves, and equipment. By Saturday afternoon the teens had packed 50,000 meals for Africa.
Final Mass Saturday night 8 pm lasted until 11. Ladies and gentlemen, there was enough energy in that room to move a mountain. And I believe there is hope for this nation, and for Christianity.
This conference is every two years. If you start now perhaps you can raise enough money for your parish to send some kids and chaperones. It will be the best money your parish budget can spend on your teens. http://www.nfcym.org/conferences/index.htm