September 16, 2011

Catholic Education Outreach / Kay Scoville

Should I stay or should I go?

There has been much “buzz” and excitement in the Office of Catholic Education, archdiocese and city of Indianapolis with the approaching conference that we are hosting for 25,000 Catholic high school youths from across the nation.

Why would a young person want to attend the National Catholic Youth Conference (NCYC)? Selling anything outside the realm of fame, fortune and success can be a challenge!

Our culture is very focused on entertainment, sporting events and trying to get ahead in life so that one can be guaranteed there is “something in it for me.”

It is very difficult to engage young people in a religious event, especially if it will take time away from school, sports and friends.

How do I convince them to go? I tell them about the dynamic and inspirational speakers, the amazing musical talent and the many youths from across the nation that will be present. And as a bonus, I can entice them with the fact that NCYC is at Lucas Oil Stadium, the home of the Indianapolis Colts, … but would that do it?

The fact remains that these times are so uncertain for young people more so than they have been in the past. Their hopes of achieving the “American Dream” are questionable in this hard economic time. They can be confused by the declining value system, and discouraged by the jobless rate and poor economy—not to mention the violent turmoil around the world. What better time to offer an opportunity which promises to be a positive and uplifting experience?

NCYC is an opportunity for our Catholic teenagers to participate with their peers and to experience the bigger Church. As one youth commented, “I never knew there were so many Catholics!” The presence of many bishops, priests, deacons, and religious men and women offers a spotlight on vocations in the Church.

The energy that flows from such a gathering is intense, and gathers momentum throughout the event to the closing liturgy. At the sacrifice of the Mass, the reverence and attention offered by the young people is inspiring as is their sharing in the Eucharist. It is a great witness of our faith that has a long-lasting impact on many people.

Indeed, NCYC is a Holy Spirit-inspired event as it impacts each and every individual, and the results are as diverse as each human is unique. Those who arrive with little faith perhaps allow a seed to be planted. Those open to the spirit perhaps leave on fire. The fruits of the spirit are witnessed when these young people return home, and immerse themselves in parish activities, school campus ministry and diocesan programs. The key is to keep the fire alive by plugging them into parish and campus life.

The theme for NCYC is “Called to Glory.” The glory we are called to by Christ is not the fame, fortune and success that the world tells us about. It is the cross, which was the ultimate gift of love. I have one prayer for the young people attending this conference—the desire expressed by St. Paul to the Colossians: “I want their hearts to be encouraged and united in love, so that they may have all the riches of assured understanding and have the knowledge of God’s mystery, that is Christ himself in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col 2:2-3).

May the love that inspires them at this conference give them the tools and desire to make a difference in their own lives and the lives of others.

(Kay Scoville is the archdiocesan director of Youth Ministry. For more information on NCYC, log on to the Youth Ministry website at, contact her at or call 317-236-1430 or 800-382-9836, ext. 1430.)

Local site Links: