Teens from Rochester Diocese won’t attend 2021 NCYC - Catholic Courier
Alexis Raniewicz (from left), Abbie Stair, Jonathan Bunk and Aiden Flaherty sway together during a performance by Matt Maher during the Nov. 17, 2017, National Catholic Youth Convention in Indianapolis. Alexis Raniewicz (from left), Abbie Stair, Jonathan Bunk and Aiden Flaherty sway together during a performance by Matt Maher during the Nov. 17, 2017, National Catholic Youth Convention in Indianapolis. (Courier file photo)

Teens from Rochester Diocese won’t attend 2021 NCYC

Later this month, thousands of Catholic young people from across the country will gather in Indianapolis for the biennial National Catholic Youth Conference. This year, for the first time since the mid-1990s, youths from the Diocese of Rochester will not be among those in attendance.

The National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry, which organizes NCYC, announced to dioceses in February that it would be going ahead with plans for a limited capacity conference Nov. 18-20. Instead of accommodating more than 22,000 young people and chaperones at the Indiana Convention Center and Lucas Oil Stadium, the conference would be limiting participation to 12,000 people.

With this information in mind, the Diocese of Rochester also factored in the need for additional buses and hotel accommodations so attendees would be able to maintain adequate social distance. In March, the difficult decision was made to not send diocesan young people to NCYC.

“We had some conversations about how logistically we would be able to travel to the conference in Indianapolis and how we might make sure young people and adults were safe,” explained Mark Capellazzi, project coordinator of youth and young-adult ministry for the Diocese of Rochester’s Office of Evangelization and Catechesis. “A national gathering with people from all across the country and not having it be in a controlled environment, I think between that and in the increase in cost in order to make sure everyone was safe and healthy, we just felt that it wouldn’t be a positive and a meaningful experience for the kids.”

Capellazzi said the Office of Evangelization and Catechesis did solicit some feedback from diocesan youth ministers and faith-formation directors, who did express some level of disappointment but were ultimately receptive of the decision.

The youth ministers and faith-formation directors also gave suggestions on what the diocese could do to engage young people in place of the NCYC trip. Through those discussions, Capellazzi said, the diocese decided to plan a gathering for youths Nov. 14 at the Parish of the Holy Family in Gates. He said the afternoon will include many of the activities that the teens would have experienced at NCYC — such as music and interactive activities around the themes of social justice, discernment, leadership and team building — and also will include opportunities for the teens to take part in the sacrament of reconciliation and attend Mass with their peers.

The event also will kick off diocesan parishes’ individual NCYC activities that will coincide with the conference in Indianapolis. Capellazzi said some parishes are organizing overnight retreat experiences at Camp Stella Maris in Livonia during the weekend of NCYC, while others will be gathering to participate in the conference’s livestream. About a dozen parishes are planning their own NCYC activities, he said.

“I think it is hard to be a faithful young person when you look around (in church) and don’t see many people your age. So I hope this kickoff gathering and what parishes are doing for the actual conference provides them with the foundation to build their own community of faith,” Capellazzi said.

When Rose Dunning, director of faith formation and youth ministry at Parish of the Holy Family, found out that the diocese would not be going to NCYC, she got together with Maureen Piehler, faith-formation coordinator and youth minister at St. Theodore Church in Gates, to put together an NCYC experience for the parishes’ youths. The teens will participate in the conference by tuning in to the livestream of the keynote speakers and sessions happening in Indianapolis. Dunning and Piehler also are working together to create their own thematic village, a key component to the conference that features an area for prayer, service and social opportunities.

“We’ve nicknamed it ‘Ignited in Faith,’” explained Dunning, who has been taking teens to the conference since 2005. “We will have a quiet prayer area, service projects and fun things (for the kids to do).”

“The idea is for the kids to still experience the universal church, but within our diocese,” she added, noting that she also has invited Holy Apostles and St. Monica parishes in Rochester to join them for their event.

Dunning admits she was disappointed about not traveling to Indianapolis with her parish’s young people for her ninth NCYC, but she said she felt inspired to bring the experience to them and for them to get a taste of the conference.

“I want them (the youths) to leave (our event) saying, ‘I want to go to conference in 2023.’ That’s my goal,” she said.

Tags: Faith Formation, NCYC
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