Have you ever heard 25,000 Catholic youth and their adult leaders praising God? Or bathed in the silence as they all kneel before the Most Holy Eucharist in Adoration? If you’ve never been to the National Catholic Youth Conference then your answer has to be no, because there is nowhere else in the United States to see this phenomenon. There also may be no better witness than the gifts of the young church on display every two years.
What makes NCYC evangelizing for the entire church and the larger culture? It answers some of the strongest critiques of aimed at the Church. Critiques like:
Isn’t the Catholic Church is just old people who are all the same?
The Young Church answers with: Young people from the western most Hawaii, northern most Alaska, to the corners of Florida and Maine. Multiple cultures including this year’s presence of Vietnamese youth, prayers and praise in Spanish, and the power and beauty of the black Catholic community. Keynotes speakers who are married, single, priests, nuns in habits, nuns not in habits, women and men, Anglo, African-American, Hispanic.
Isn’t Catholic prayer just sitting and listening with your hands folded?
The Young Church answers with: Calling out the name of Jesus as they raise their hands in the air. Chanting the Scriptures with Benedictine Monks of the nearby Abbey. Dancing and singing with praise music. Kneeling in silence before the Blessed Sacrament.
Isn’t the Catholic Church just old buildings?
The Young Church answers: We are the church! We are the Church as pray for one another, listen to one another, welcome one another. We are the Church as we eat together, sing together, dance together, and laugh together. We are the Church as we confess our sins, receive the Eucharist, recite the Lord’s prayer. We are the Church as for three days we make Lucas Oil Stadium the largest US Catholic Church. We are the Church!
May the witness of these 25,000 mostly young faithful be our encouragement and our guide as we seek to answer the challenge and opportunity to proclaim Christ to the world.