NCYC ‘a great experience’ for Southern Tier Catholic teens - Catholic Courier
Teens pose for a photo in front of a sign.

Teens from St. Agnes Church in Avon, St. Paul of the Cross Church in Honeoye Falls and St. Rose Church in Lima pose for a photo during their pilgrimage to the National Catholic Youth Conference in Indianapolis. (Photo courtesy of Christine DeVito)

NCYC ‘a great experience’ for Southern Tier Catholic teens

Take the usual number of worshipers at your church’s Sunday Mass, multiply it many times over, make all the participants around your own age, and what do you have?

A spiritual experience of a lifetime, as far as Ashley Feely is concerned.

Ashley, 16, expressed awe at being surrounded by approximately 12,000 other youths Nov. 18 for the closing Mass of the National Catholic Youth Conference. The massive liturgy — held in Lucas Oil Stadium in downtown Indianapolis — put an exclamation point on the 2023 NCYC theme “Fully Alive.”

“I have never been to a Mass with so many people,” said Ashley, who belongs to Holy Family Catholic Community in Steuben and Livingston counties.

She was among approximately 115 youths and adult chaperons from 12 parishes across the Diocese of Rochester who participated in the three-day conference, which is the largest Catholic youth-ministry event in the country.

Vivianne Boor said she also was excited to be in the midst of so many fellow Catholic youths throughout the conference.

“It was a great experience. The people were very interesting to meet and talk to,”said Vivianne, 14, from Avon’s St. Agnes Parish.

“Everyone seemed to very excited to be there, which was contagious and made the whole event more fun,” Ashley added.

Rochester diocesan teens take part in many activities

The NCYC has traditionally been held every two years, although Rochester was making the trip for the first time since 2019. Despite the diocese having a historically strong track record of NCYC participation, no Rochester group took part in 2021 due to lingering concerns about the coronavirus pandemic. Instead, participants followed on livestream.

Returning to in-person attendance at the 2023 NCYC, diocesan teens were treated to an itinerary filled with inspirational speakers and musicians. Lindsay Kennedy, 16, from Ithaca’s St. Catherine of Siena Parish, said a personal highlight for her was “learning and listening from many different people.”

Prayer opportunities at the NCYC included Mass, rosary recitation, a eucharistic procession, Divine Mercy chaplet, adoration and the sacrament of reconciliation. Another big draw was a large exhibit hall featuring booths staffed by Catholic colleges, religious orders, ministry organizations and performers as well as interactive opportunities to play games and take part in service projects.

An additional conference highlight featured numerous breakout sessions addressing issues relevant to Catholic teens. Examples included making true friendships; answering God’s call for your life; confronting racism; building stronger family relations; how social media affects emotions and friendships; pro-life activism; the importance of receiving Jesus in the Eucharist; mental health; and developing healthy dialogue about faith, politics and morality.

The lively NCYC atmosphere also lent itself to lighthearted moments within teens’ parish groups and with people they met along the way. For instance, Teyo Rasmussen, 15, from Ithaca’s Immaculate Conception Parish, ended up engaging in an arm-wrestling match with a seminarian.

Indianapolis conference united teens from across U.S. in faith

Perhaps the most vital aspect of being among many thousand Catholic peers in Indianapolis was the reassurance “that there are so many of us out there,” Teyo said.

“You are not alone,” Lindsay agreed.

“It was a very cool experience, because I am used to being one of the only Catholic people in my school, and it is easy to forget there are other Catholic teens,” Ashley remarked.

“It is really incredible to see everyone come together like that,” Vivianne said, adding that uniting with like-minded teens from various U.S. states was “kind of rewarding.”

Meanwhile, a Nov. 19 Facebook post from Steve Angrisano — cohost of this year’s NCYC — praised the youths’ enthusiasm and spirituality during what he called “an indescribable week.”

“The passion of the young church often leads the way, which is sometimes unrecognized,” wrote Angrisano, a nationally renowned Catholic musician. “But it would be hard to miss the passion, the worship, the prayer, and the faith as young people brought their hearts to Jesus this week.”

Tags: NCYC
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