Thursday, November 15, 2007

Great Gathering of Catholic Youth in Columbus, OH

On November 8-10, about 23,000 teen agers from around the USA descended on Columbus, OH for the biannual National Catholic Youth Conference (NCYC). From Dubuque, IA, Kansas City, KS, Green Bay, WI, Albany, NY, Houston, TX -- young people, their chaperones and youth ministers gathered for a festive three days to pray together, meet one another, and grow in their Catholic Faith and identity.

Franciscan Vocation Booth with Fr. Don Miller, OFM and Fr. Kim Studwell, OFM
NCYC 2007, Columbus, OH Photo courtesy of Sr. Carmella Chojnacki, FDC

Fr. Don Miller, OFM from St. John the Baptist Province (Cincinnati, OH) and I stationed the Franciscan Friars' booth for the duration of the conference. Bro. Jack Carnaghi, OFM and Fr. Johnpaul Cafiero, OFM of Sacred Heart Province (St. Louis/Chicago) joined us for Friday. Fr. Don took several pictures, including the shot of the conference here.

The event began, sadly, with a fatal hit-and-run accident of a young lady from the Las Vegas, NV delegations, Veronica Gantt. Their delegation understandably returned shaken and horrified, with grief counselors awaiting their reutrn arrival. The conference continued, with daily reminderes of the tragedy appropriately mentioined -- intentions for Mass, intercessions at prayer times and a place to write messages to Veronica's family and friends.

The theme of this year's NCYC was "Discover the Way". The morning prayer sessions I found to be vibrant, uplifting and energizing. Young adults led the morning prayer and featured speakers gave stirring testimonies of how God worked in their lives through seemingly impossible situations.

Throughout the NCYC, young people visited the area called "Adventureland" where the vocation displays were (strategically!) located. Loads and loads of youth and their chaperones stopped by. Several actually engaged in conversation, either out of curiosity or because there was some kind of interest in religious life. Many youth and adults had questions.

Adventureland at NCYC 2007.
Photo courtesy of Sr. Carmella Chojnacki, FDC

Fr. Don and I, and Bro. Jack and Fr. Johnpaul on Friday, walked among the youth, both inside the vendors' area and beyond. Fr. Don and I helped with confessions during the time, too.

Many young people and their chaperones participated in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Reconciliation Room, NCYC 2007, Columbus, OH
Photo courtesy of Sr. Carmella Chojnacki, FDC

Friends of the Franciscan friars also had their vocation booths -- the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity of Manitowoc, WI. I work periodically with these Sisters in promoting our Franciscan way of life.

Fr. Kim Studwell, OFM with Srs. Julie Ann Sheehan, OSF and Mary
Ann Spanjers, OSF, (Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity)
NCYC 2007, Columbus, OH. Photo courtesy of Fr. Don Miller, OFM

Some others were present, including the Daughters of Divine Charity (FDC) whose foundress, Mother Franziska Lechner, is up for beatification. Sr Carmella Chojnacki, FDC, at their USA Motherhouse in Akron, OH and some of their Sisters represented their community well. She graciously supplied several photos here. And the Capuchin Francisans from the St. Augustine Province in Pittsburgh, PA attended.

Sr. Mary Ann Spanjers, OSF speaking with youth at NCYC 2007
Photo courtesy of Sr. Carmella Chojnacki, FDC

Sr. Carmella Sr. Chojnacki, FDC at NCYC w007 Columbus, OH Fr. Kim Studwell, OFM speaking with Fr. Tom Betz, OFM Cap. at the
Photo courtesy of Sr. Carmella Chojnacki, FDC Vocation Booths, NCYC 2007, Columbus, OH
Photo courtesy of Fr. Don Miller,OFM

The NCYC 2007 was a blessed event, even through a tragedy. I think it was good for young people to be kept aware of Veronica's death without becoming maudlin about it. A final image of the concluding Sunday Vigil Eucharist on Saturday evening, 10 November, may give an idea as to the magnitude of youth from all over the USA and clergy participating. I confess I wasn't there for the closing Mass. However, thanks to Sr. Carmella Chojnacki, FDC, who was there, we have this (I think) powerful photo of youth and adults worshiping God and celebrating the "source of and summit" of our faith, the Holy Eucharist!

Concluding Eucharist at NCYC 2007, Columbus, OH
Photo courtesy of Sr. Carmella Chojnacki, FDC

Thanks, Fr. Don Miller, OFM and Sr. Carmella Chojnacki, FDC for generously sharing your photos of the great youth gathering of NCYC 2007 in Columbus, OH! God bless you both and prosper your ministries and communities!

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