INDIANAPOLIS- Just over 24,000 Catholic youth from throughout the country gathered in Indianapolis for a three day conference and celebration of faith. Participants in last weekend’s National Catholic Youth Conference came from as far as Alaska and Hawaii, and as close as our very own Diocese of Bridgeport, which sent a contingent of 30 youth and chaperones.
Starting their 14 hour bus journey late on Wednesday night, youth kept up a spirit of joyful anticipation, arriving at the Indianapolis Convention Center the following afternoon. Their patience and perseverance was immediately rewarded, as they stepped off the bus to an atmosphere of contagious excitement that permeated throughout the building. Youth from across the country were trading hats and trinkets, coming up to complete strangers to share in conversation, and commiserating with others about their common Catholic faith.
Vendors and exhibitors from across the country were present in the massive exhibit hall, which was themed as a celebration of different parts of the country. One of these exhibitors was The Face of Prayer, manned by a dedicated team of volunteers from the Diocese of Bridgeport. Youth were seen constantly surrounding the booth, filming questions about their faith and prayer life to be answered in the new Face of Prayer 2.0 campaign, which was formally launched by Bishop Frank Caggiano later in the conference. The goal of the campaign is to create a video catechism, with questions asked by young people, and answers provided by theologians from around the country.
Youth from the Diocese of Bridgeport gathered together each day for the morning and evening sessions, which were held in Lucas Oil Stadium. Though the program depended upon the day, youth from St. Philip Parish and St. Andrew Parish participated in prayer, Catholic concerts, Adoration, Holy Mass, and listened to speakers each day with great attention.
Amongst those who helped lead prayer throughout the conference was Bishop Frank, taking the stage at Lucas Oil Stadium on Saturday morning. In his reflection, Bishop Frank discussed some of the challenges that young people face, and how they can find their way through anything they might face with the help of Jesus and His Blessed Mother.
“With Jesus, there is nothing you can’t face” he said to a standing ovation.
Bishop Frank also gave a breakout session to Youth Ministers on Friday afternoon, and joined the NCYC staff on the official livestream of the event that evening.
As the conference wound down on Saturday afternoon, the Diocese of Bridgeport contingent gathered for a final time to thank Evan Psencik, the Coordinator of Youth and Young Adult Ministry, who lead the pilgrimage. Youth shared some of their favorite components
After a beautiful Closing Mass celebrated by Archbishop Gomez, the youth were sent forth into the world to spread the Gospel by the way they lived their lives. Shortly after Mass, our youth boarded their buses for home, arriving Sunday afternoon.