By SUZANNE HAUGH, Special Contributor | Published November 3, 2005
ATLANTA—“Lean into it.”
There were a number of inspiring sound bites from the 2005 National Catholic Youth Conference held in Atlanta from Oct. 27-29, but one that resonated repeatedly with those gathered was this phrase passed on by charismatic speaker and performer Steve Angrisano, who served as the event’s emcee.
Angrisano recalled his experience attending a work camp in Virginia where he first heard the words “lean into it” to describe the resolve to plow through physical discomforts or other situations that may distract one from serving others or experiencing God’s presence.
Thirty-six hour bus rides, late-night return trips to hotels, 18th birthdays spent away from home—or just being homesick—as well as the fatigue from high-energy days and little sleep. Many youth at the NCYC experiencing a personal hurdle found the strength needed to “lean into” what the conference had to offer.
Charlotte May, a high school senior from Washington, D.C., sacrificed an event that is often one of the pinnacles of high school—her senior homecoming football game and dance—to come to Atlanta for NCYC. Charlotte made the best of it, though, wearing a tiara, a corsage and a sash fashioned from a white hand towel with the words, “NCYC Homecoming Queen,” which her adult leaders made for her.
Though she was on the pom squad and would be performing in her last homecoming game of high school, Charlotte said that she was glad she’d made the choice to come to NCYC. She attended the previous NCYC in Houston in 2003.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Not every NCYC is the same,” she said. “Everyone at school thought I was crazy. I went to homecoming my freshman, sophomore and junior years. But I get so inspired at NCYC. I didn’t want to miss it.”
Blogger Meaghan Curry of Lilburn woke up Saturday morning with a sore throat. As the first session started, her throat was burning and her upper body ached, according to her blog entry on the archdiocesan youth site, www.atlyouth.org.
“So I just thought of Steve Angrisano’s challenge to ‘lean into it.’ So I tried to give myself completely today, no matter how I felt. And what a powerful day it was.”
Meaghan admitted having high expectations for the conference but never thought she would experience such a conversion. She received the sacrament of reconciliation gathering up “enough courage to confess ALL of my sins.”
“The winds of change did change my heart this weekend, and I wish that I could somehow express how happy I am that God has called me to Him. I am so thankful for this weekend.”