Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta

Kansas City

Local Teens Find National Conference Uplifting

Published December 24, 2009

Following are the “jottings” from the St. Oliver Plunkett Church weekly bulletin by LaSalette Father James Henault, pastor of St. Oliver Plunkett.

Jim’s Jottings

In Kansas City, Mo., from Nov. 19-21, over 22,000 teens and their chaperones from around our country and a few other places gathered for the National Catholic Youth Conference. This biennial event has been important to our parish teens over the years, and this year 40 traveled together on a 15-hour bus ride to participate. I joined them in Kansas City for the days. (I flew.) This was my first experience with NCYC, and I must say that it truly exceeded my expectations and yes, even the hype, that Lynn Ory (youth minister, St. Oliver Plunkett) presented. A gathering of thousands of teens who readily and steadily professed their faith through enthusiasm, song and motion, excitement and grace cannot but impress anyone who comes in contact. The news reports from the local media captured this reality as Kansas City itself was transformed by the living example of Christian faith presented by the youth. The universal comment was that this was by far the best convention that the area has ever hosted. But that was from outside. What happened in the Sprint Center and Convention Halls was even better!

Starting outside the doors as we waited at times for hours to get in there was the church. People from all over the nation gathered in faith and instantly became friends. All brought something to show and to share. Meeting people from all parts of the nation was the order of the day, and all felt that special connectedness. Once inside whether it was close up on the floor for Mass or tied to the ceiling for the opening ceremony, you had to be moved by the fact that God was in that place! The noise was often deafening because people were really singing, praying, worshipping and involved—then again during adoration, quiet prayer and Communion, you could have heard a pin drop. The presentations were challenging and spoke of people’s true faith. The animators and youth speakers were magnificent, giving witness through their lives and making the gospel message alive. Even the bishops and clergy present were in touch with what was happening whether it was a bishop doing magic tricks, speaking of texting and twittering in his homily, or addressing the “young Church” about the Eucharist and faith. No one could be there those days and not be touched and renewed. Thanks to all who helped to support our teens in their journey and pray that we can send another great group to Indianapolis in November 2011.

Michael Moore, age 16: “I thought NCYC was an amazing experience—I didn’t know what to think, but I still had a feeling it wasn’t what I expected. It had not hit me till Friday night how much better and worthwhile the trip was. Not only were the sessions so understanding and helpful, but I also made friends—friends from all over the states (and one from London) and even closer relationships with the friends from my own parish. NCYC was literally life-changing and I would go a thousand times more if I could.”

David Adair, adult chaperone: “The theme of the 2009 NCYC was “Christ Reigns.” This was my first experience with attending such an event, and I can say that my life is better for it. My days are filled with obligations and commitments, whether voluntary or not, that I have chosen to become a part of who I am, and who I will be. To experience 22,000 people, most of them under the age of 18, converging on a welcoming city, with the want to learn and share their faith, love a total stranger, and take their light home with them to share with others is truly inspiring. Our young church is alive and well, and in watching them practice their Catholic faith, and demonstrate their love of God unhindered by the strains we adults put on ourselves reminds me that Christ reigns in my life, and has always been a part of who I am, and who I will be.”

Jake Riescher, age 16: “NCYC was nothing short of an amazing experience. It’s not like half the people are participating. It’s 22,000 teens showing their love for God—it’s just powerful.”