Hope Was Everywhere!

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30 of us began our pilgrimage to NCYC from the Bridgeport Diocese to Yonkers. What a beautiful surprise to worship at the St. Joseph’s Seminary with approximately 90 more pilgrims. We would embark together on two buses through the night.

Feeling God’s presence at the onset set the tone for our group as we gradually became comfortable and closed our eyes trusting that God was guiding our drivers.

Teens are fearless in meeting other people especially 25 thousand other teens who would soon be decorating each other with pins, hats, bracelets, clothespins and of course free hugs!

Hope was everywhere!

The theme of the NCYC 2017 is called. What does it mean to be called? Through workshops, music, the saints, Mary, scripture and the Cross, we were all called to experience conversion in every activity and every encounter during these 3 ½ days together.

We were brought from a sense of uncertainty perhaps even for some brokenness to encounter deliberate change. It was just a matter of recognizing that Christ calls us in our hearts. He teaches us, forgives us, redeems us and challenges us for more. He calls us to serve, to pray, to love.

Throughout our praise and worship the message to be called was alive in our music from hard-core contemporary to monks chanting and every kind of music in between. But no where was the excitement more prevalent than in the hearts and actions of the 25K teenagers who could be found praying, singing and dancing and in silence adoring our Lord Jesus Christ.

What exactly are these teens looking for? Simply, they seek the meaning of their lives. Why did they come to Indy? They are hungry for direction. Therefore, I came to NCYC as a chaperone, to have the opportunity to bring youth to a place of direction. The youth is today’s church. For 3 days, I witnessed todays church hungry for more. I was a chaperone turned participant.

25K teens worked together in the thematic village climbing together, balancing together, hanging from ropes together, writing prayers for others, preparing meal bags. What an infectious energy! And what a testimony of a strong church.

My most profound moment was when all youth directors were asked to stand and pray for the youth we brought to NCYC. What a grace it was to pray for them and then to look out at 25K and pray for them.

During an uncertain time in our world, a world in distress, there it was, hope among our youth from all over the country in Lucas Oil Stadium. Hearts on fire, teens ready to bring the message of the gospels to others, teens eager to serve the needs of social justice issues. Teens whose hearts belong to Him the almighty. Teens who say yes to Jesus.

Changed because He calls every day for us to be more.


Susan Baldwin, OFS
Director of Faith Formation / Youth Ministry
St. Andrew Church
Bridgeport, CT