Published October 13, 2005
From ancient traditions to praise and worship gatherings, teens attending the National Catholic Youth Conference at the end of the month will have the opportunity to experience a wide spectrum of the church.
Father Theodore Book, parochial vicar at St. Brigid Church in Alpharetta, is the liturgy coordinator for the conference, which will be held Oct. 27-29 at the Georgia Dome and World Congress Center. The goal for the spiritual dimension of NCYC, he says, is a chance for teens to “experience the sacred.”
“We want to let the young people have an experience of Christ, so that this is not just a vacation but a chance to meet the Lord in a way they haven’t before,” he said.
Mass will be celebrated daily at the conference, and 45 priests will be available to hear confessions at designated times during the weekend.
An adoration chapel will allow teens and chaperones to spend time during the day in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament, and each evening there will be vespers followed by Benediction.
“They will get to pray the prayer of the church that the church has prayed for thousands of years. It’s praising God and worshiping him in a way that goes back all the way to the apostles’ time,” Father Book said. “And there are so many great blessings that flow from Benediction. It helps to remind the teens that they are a part of something much bigger than just the local church.”
Also in the chapel area of the conference, there will be guided meditations, rosaries, journaling exercises, the Stations of the Cross, and XLT—a prayer experience featuring praise and worship music and Catholic teaching. Various bands from across the archdiocese, including the Taizé Choir from Our Lady of Mercy High School in Fairburn, will sing at Masses and in the chapel.
“We have lots of different events that are designed to reach teens on a personal level, an experiential level, so that teens can have a new awareness, a new awakening to God’s presence,” Father Book said.
It isn’t just the teens attending the conference who are able to have prayer experiences during NCYC. Martha Gaynoe is the intercessory prayer coordinator for the conference and is encouraging everyone in the archdiocese to pray for those who will be coming to NCYC.
“I’d like to invite any and all in the archdiocese to be praying for this conference,” she said. “It is a way of spiritually welcoming all the people who will be coming to our city and exposing them to the spirituality of Atlanta, which is eucharistic based and intercessory based.”
Gaynoe said a team of “prayer warriors” has been praying for the conference since March, and she hopes to involve more parishioners in Atlanta by developing a spiritual bouquet that will be presented at the conference.
Those interested in praying for conference participants should e-mail Gaynoe at NCYCprayer@yahoo.com and express their prayer commitment, whether an hour of eucharistic adoration or a rosary, or any other means of prayer for conference participants.
Barb Garvin, archdiocesan director of youth ministry and host diocesan coordinator of NCYC, said that prayer is another way of showing hospitality to those coming to Atlanta.
“Regardless of if you are participating or not, if all the people in this archdiocese are praying for all the teens, that would be a wonderful thing.”