By Paul Morisi, diocesan director, youth and young adult faith formation
The Diocese of Brooklyn participated in the 2017 National Catholic Youth Conference (NCYC) in Indianapolis, Ind. The conference is organized and sponsored by the National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry. Throughout the course of the three-day event, over 20,000 young people and adult leaders took part in liturgies, mega session, small-sharing groups and fellowship. Here are some takeaways from the experience:
Young People Are Hungry
Sure, if you step into a hallway between sessions, you would see teens devouring, almost inhaling, snacks, hot dogs or pizza (or what passes for pizza in the Midwest). But the hunger I am referring to is rooted in Jesus Christ. Now they may not know they are looking for Jesus per se, but it is a hunger to be loved for who they are – no more, no less. NCYC truly did make it clear that Jesus died for them as they are, not a perfect version them, but who they are right at this moment.
There is a relief in knowing that God accepts us how we are, and will journey with us as we grow in our faith. With this, young people can begin to allow Christ into their hearts and set parishes on fire!
Prayer Is Not Overrated
Some trends may show that less Millennials and those in Generation Z participate in less church, however prayer is important to young people. At the closing liturgy with over 30 bishops, Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles told teens that prayer will not only build their friendship with Jesus, but also transform their lives. It is good to know that young people are looking for a relationship with Christ and that bishops are able to help them. Are those in the pews or positions of power in parishes welcoming young people looking for a faith community? How can parishes be more welcoming to young people?
The Church is in Good Hands
NCYC has a jam-packed schedule so there is no way to participate in every event or workshop. Yet somehow, the lines for confession and adoration were always long. The programs that were set up to help feed the homeless across the globe was never understaffed, and the sharing of not only diverse cultures but also the various devotions and spiritualities was alive and well.
The youth understand what it means to be Church. Sometimes, I think, better than we do. Are we empowering them to take leadership roles in our parishes?
The ministry of evangelizing our youth is never and easy one. However, there is light at the end of the tunnel. The faith of the young Church is strong. We must continue to empower and foster these young disciples of Christ.