Some 23,000 young people from around the country gathered in Indianapolis, Ind., Nov. 21-23 for the 2013 National Catholic Youth Conference, and 165 teens and chaperones from the Diocese of Syracuse were among them.
Diocesan Director of the Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry Bob Walters said three busloads of pilgrims from the diocese made the trek to Indiana for the event hosted by the National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry. Like all youth events the diocese hosts or attends, the goal of the trip was to provide young people with an opportunity for “deeper conversion to Jesus Christ and his Church — a personal relationship, lived out primarily through the sacraments and prayer.”
The theme of this year’s conference was “Signed, Sealed, Delivered,” focusing on living out one’s baptismal vows. The three-day event at Lucas Oil Stadium and the Indiana Convention Center featured prayer, workshops, speakers and musical performances. Teens could also visit an “interactive park” to participate in service projects, play games and meet with representatives from various religious communities and apostolates. The Sacrament of Reconciliation was also offered throughout the event; lines were long every day, Walters said, and nearly everyone was wearing an “I’m forgiven” sticker by the end of the weekend.
The conference closed with Mass in the stadium. On the overnight bus trip back to New York, teens were asked to reflect in small groups on how they encountered Christ during the trip and how they would live out their faith more fully back home.
Walters said his office has received positive feedback on the trip. One pilgrim, Josh Popp from St. Charles-St. Ann’s Parish in Syracuse, offered this reflection on his experience: “I not only grew much closer to the group that I traveled with, but also to the Catholic community across the nation. For those two days, I saw dances from Hawaii and Louisiana, heard songs and prayers in Spanish, and spoke to teens from the Midwest. It was an amazing feeling to be united to 23,000 unique people by a common faith, and I highly recommend that anyone who has the opportunity to experience NCYC in 2015 takes it.”
For more information on Youth and Young Adult Ministry events in the diocese, visit www.syrdio.org.