Parish Teens Attend NCYC 2011

December 6, 2011

From Sherry Clifford, Youth Minister:

November 17th -20th 600 teens from the Diocese of Rochester traveled to the National Catholic Youth Conference in Indianapolis. Donna and I had the privilege of traveling with 5 well mannered and faithful teens from St. Charles. In November, Erica, Regina, Mike, Julia, Catherine, Donna and I traveled on a pilgrimage to Indianapolis to join 23,000 teens to share our faith. As we reflected on our time in Indianapolis there were several events and experiences that have remained fresh in our minds. We listened to several inspirational speakers that shared their faith and their love of God. When I asked the teens to reflect on the pilgrimage they shared with me how these speakers made such an impact on them and how they deepened their faith. One set of speakers were husband and wife and they spoke on chastity. The teens could not stop talking about these speakers and how important their message was for all teens to hear. We also heard Steve Angrisano and Matt Smith speak. Steve, a well known speaker and musician, spoke on faith and how God placed him in the right place at the right time. He also told a story of a priest that he met and how God had placed him in the right place at the right time. God has a plan for us and if we allow him in our lives He will be there to guide us. Matt, who was on the Real World reality show, spoke about reality television and informed the teens that only 0.25% of their lives are portrayed on a reality TV show. There were also many other keynote speakers with inspirational messages. Donna and I were also moved by the speakers. There were two events that took place as 23,000 Catholics gathered that we will remember forever. The first was on Friday evening as we were led in a Lectio Divina which is an experience of a slow, meditative prayer focused on the story of the Annunciation. At the appropriate time it was carefully and respectfully explained why silence was an important element of that form of prayer. The assembly was invited to refrain from all electronic communication. We were reminded them that this kind of silence means more than just not speaking. It means calming the body and the spirit so that one can be totally attentive to the Lord. 23,000 teens and adults were so quiet that you could hear a pin drop. The second event that made an impact on all of us was the closing Mass on Saturday night. We all stood in awe as about 250 priests and seminarians processed in for the closing Mass. Our own Bishop Clark was there as well as several other priests from our area. Watching 23,000 people participating in Mass, that was about 3 hours long, all at the same time reassured us that the Catholic Church is alive and well. Erica, Regina, Mike, Julia, Catherine, Donna, and I found God on our pilgrimage. We have always had God in our lives but our pilgrimage deepened our relationship with Him and reminded each of us how much He loves us. We found God not only in the Eucharist but in all of the speakers, the teens and adults attending, and within ourselves. We pray that God will be with and within you all today and always. Our pilgrimage reminded all of us that there is a God and we are not Him, and that we need to take time each day to except the day as it comes and to allow God into our lives. This Christmas season allow God into your lives daily When I asked the teens to put into words what they had experienced this is what they said: “The trading cards with the Bishops pictures were an amazing idea. We have Bishop Clark Trading cards.”“The sand art that portrayed the crucifixion of Jesus was creative, artistic, and inspiring!” “We have memories to last a lifetime.” This experience brought us closer in our faith.” Life changing experience!” “We formed a bond as a group and with God.” “Mass was breathtaking!” “This pilgrimage was insanely awesome!”

If you want to experience what it was like for us you can see it online at and click on the link that says watch the recordings.