The 2015 National Catholic Youth Conference is underway in Indianapolis, and more than 140 young people from across the diocese are there to participate. Over three days, some 25,000 teenagers will come together to pray, be inspired by speakers and enjoy fellowship with one another.
Two members of St. Vincent Blessed Sacrament Parish in Vestal — St. Emily Burgher, a senior at Johnson City High School, and Sarah Majercik-Scott, a junior at Seton Catholic Central — are sharing dispatches here. Check back for updates throughout the conference!
NCYC Day 1: Thursday, Nov. 19
Opening ceremonies of the conference included an enthusiastic and amazing concert by For King and Country, followed by praise and worship with the NCYC animators, who are teens from all over the USA chosen to lead the conference. Our keynote speaker, Father Leo Patalinghug, gave us a funny and spiritual talk about facing our challenges and temptations by using his expertise in the martial arts. He demonstrated his Tae Kwon Do by breaking boards. And he also break dances and cooks! An altar was created before our eyes with stones brought by thousands of participants from all over our country.
NCYC Day 2: Friday, Nov. 20
The morning session keynote speaker was Chris Padgett, who shared a passionate talk on the Blessed Mother. We learned that to love God and Jesus, we need to need to love and honor His Mother and be “Marian.” His talk led into a beautiful procession of the Blessed Mother to us, her children. One workshop included Father Joe Espaillat, from the Archdiocese of NY, whose spoke on not being afraid to stand up for the truth, to be modern day witnesses to the love of Jesus. The evening program included keynote Mark Hart, founder of Lifeteen, who spoke about having faith like Isaiah to stand up and believe in the one true God! Our evening concluded with Matt Maher leading us in a profound encounter of Adoration with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.
NCYC Day 3: Saturday, Nov. 21
Our final day at NCYC began with the music and dancing with Tony Melendez, who was born with no arms but taught himself to play guitar with his feet! In 1987, He was privileged to play for Pope John Paul II.
We listened to Dr. Carolyn Woo, President and CEO of Catholic Relief Services, who shared her story that led her into her service to the poor and needy.
We had fun in the youth-oriented “thematic park,” which had games, service opportunities, vendors and so many more ways to stay connected in faith!
Our afternoon worship included the Catholic rock band “The Thirsty,” who led us in a fun rendition of “We are the Champions” but changed the words to “We are the Catholics!
And our general session ended with an amazing closing Celebration of the Liturgy with hundreds of priests and seminarians, welcoming all the concelebrating bishops with Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga. The music and atmosphere was joyful and uplifting!
We depart Indianapolis with full hearts and strong faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. We are eager to share our experiences with our own parishes….NCYC Rocks! We can’t wait for 2017!