Diocesan youth prepare for trip to National Catholic Youth Conference - Catholic Courier
Bishop Salvatore R. Matano delivers the homily during an Oct. 25 Mass for youth going to the National Catholic Youth Conference. Bishop Salvatore R. Matano delivers the homily during an Oct. 25 Mass for youth going to the National Catholic Youth Conference.

Diocesan youth prepare for trip to National Catholic Youth Conference

GATES — Seventeen-year-old Sara Lozy-Lester is counting down the days until she boards a bus and ventures on an eight-hour trip to Indianapolis. She is one of more than 500 high-school students from the Diocese of Rochester who will be attending the National Catholic Youth Conference in that city Nov. 19-21.

"The energy that was there and the people that I met were nothing like I ever experienced before," Sara, a member of Greece’s Our Mother of Sorrows Parish and a student at Our Lady of Mercy High School, said about attending a past conference.

NCYC is a biennial three-day conference held in Indianapolis that features keynote speakers, prayer, workshops, Mass, concerts and exhibits as well as the opportunity for youths to connect with more than 23,000 of their peers from across the country. The theme of this year’s conference is "Here I Am Lord/Aquí Estoy Señor.

Sara attended the conference two years ago and enjoyed it so much that she decided to make the trip again.

"I have made friends from Chicago and Nebraska that I’ve kept in contact with and that I’m going to see again at the conference," she said.

Sixteen-year-old Joey Philippone also is looking forward to meeting youths from all over the country. Like Sara, he is making his second trip to the conference.

"It is an awesome experience, celebrating our faith with thousands of other youth from around the nation," said Philippone, a member of St. Rita Parish in Webster.

But before the teens went on their pilgrimage, they spent the afternoon of Oct. 25 at St. Jude Church in Gates for a pilgrim-parent gathering. Youths from as far away as Owego attended the event, which started with a Mass celebrated by Bishop Salvatore R. Matano.

Bishop Matano blesses teens attending NCYC

During his homily, Bishop Matano told the teens that the difficulties they face today are some of the same difficulties that he and the rest of the world faced during the time he was growing up.

"You see, the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s, the seeds were being sown so that the difficulties of today have now blossomed and have come to fruition," Bishop Matano said.


Tiffany Czebiniak navigates a maze guided by fellow youths in an exercise following the Oct. 25 Mass at Gates’ St. Jude Church.

He told the teens about his own faith journey and shared a story about walking to Sunday Mass with his family during a snowstorm. He told the teens to be faithful to their attendance at Mass. He also noted that he did not believe they were going to the conference because they would get out of school for a couple of days, but instead are motivated by faith.

"I believe you are wise beyond your years," Bishop Matano remarked. "You have the wisdom to approach Jesus."

The bishop told the teens he would pray for them, and also asked that they remember him in prayer.

Before the final blessing, Bishop Matano asked all the teens to stand for a special blessing.

"May their pilgrimage serve to deepen their Catholic faith, enlighten their minds and strength their will," Bishop Matano said as he extended his hands over the youths.

After Mass, the teens gathered in St. Jude Church’s gym, where they were required to complete the Color Challenge, a series of obstacle-type games where they had to work together in a group to complete a particular task.

With less than a month to go before NCYC begins, Sara said she is ready and excited about participating. She also has some advice for teens who are making their first trip to NCYC.

"Be open to talk to people," she said. "It is an experience you can’t get anywhere else."

EDITOR’S NOTE : The Catholic Courier will provide updates from the Rochester pilgrims while they are at the conference. Visit our website at www.catholiccourier.com or like us on Facebook to see what they are experiencing.


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