Every two years, high school students from around the nation gather for the National Catholic Youth Conference. This year, students and adult leaders from CJ attended this conference, which was held from November 16-18.
“When I signed up for NCYC I really had no idea what to expect,” shared Mikayla Jette ‘21. “I knew it was a faith conference for teens but that was about it. I wanted to grow in my faith and to have a stronger relationship with God. My relationship with God was hitting some rough patches and I was hoping that I would find a way to overcome these struggles I had been facing. I was also hoping to get to know some of the other teens that were at the conference from all over the country. I hoped to gain a better understanding of my faith and why it is so important.”
“I didn't have any expectations for NCYC but I was met with 25,000 youth who shared in the experience of being in community and listening to speakers, singing and dancing to live music, praying, and growing together,” reflected Andrew Buchanan ‘18.
During the conference, students chose different spiritual offerings to experience including Eucharistic Adoration, Confession, and the Rosary in addition to service and recreational activities.
“These were in addition to a full menu of world class Catholic speakers who gave talks on a variety of youth faith-based topics,” teacher Tim O’Loughlin noted.
“My favorite part was Adoration,” Peyton Wade ‘19 shared. “I was overwhelmed with all my mistakes and I felt a sense of God saying that it was OK and I could feel him holding me. It was also cool because it was in a stadium of 25,000 people. Everyone was silent.”
“I loved a lot about NCYC, but I really enjoyed all of the breakout sessions and the speakers who talked,” Jette said. “God walked with me as I decided which sessions I should go to. The ones I attended really impacted my faith. They talked about our calling in life and what God's plan is for each of us. This was something that I had been struggling with in my faith. The guest speakers talked about their callings. These sessions opened my eyes. I learned that I need to have full trust and faith in God and that I will learn what I am meant to do when the time is right. I have always had a hard time talking to God and praying with Him. I would listen for him to talk to me but never heard anything. I thought that I just wasn't as important as other people that needed God. I thought I was praying wrong. But at NCYC I heard God speak to me. He was inviting me to say YES to his plan. He reminded me that I will find out what my calling is in time, but that I just need to trust in Him and everything will be okay.”
O’Loughlin added, “No two people have the exact same relationship with Christ. Similarly, I think our students came to NCYC in different places and with different needs and expectations. Not surprisingly then, I think they left with vastly different NCYC experiences. The Lord always shows up, but He shows up in different ways for different people. Some experiences were profound and powerful while others were light and joyful. If our youth were able to take even one small step forward in their faith life, then our goal was accomplished.
“We simply want to offer students different ways to encounter Christ and move with Him in their faith lives,” O’Loughlin continued. “NCYC is just one of many things we offer students with that goal in mind. NCYC is a unique, however, because our students are able to explore and express their faith with 25,000 other young Catholics. The NCYC environment allows kids to be bolder in their faith exploration and expression than maybe they would at home or in school. They are able to step outside their faith comfort zone without fear of being judged perhaps by peers who have not made their faith life a priority.”
When reflecting on the entire NCYC experience, Buchanan shared, “NCYC is a lot more than just music and prayer. Most of the time is spent in a large area where a wide variety of booths are set up with artists, priests, religious groups, colleges, games, etc... You can talk with people from all over the country and trade things that then you can take home to remember your experience. If you are thinking about going in 2019, do it! It is an absolutely amazing experience.”
Wade agreed, “I really encourage going to it — it was completely amazing.”
“NCYC has majorly changed my faith,” Jette added. “At this conference I experienced God in many ways that I never had before. God comes into our lives in different ways. At NCYC I heard him talk to me about my calling. God calls all of us to say, ‘Yes’ to His plan. We may not know what that plan is, but we have to trust God and know that we will find out what we are called to do when He is ready for us to fulfill His plan. I loved the opportunity I was given to grow and get a better understanding of my faith through this experience.”
Posted November 27, 2017