By Cara Hardy
Holy Trinity, Glen Burnie
Cara is one of many high school age young people who participated in the National Catholic Youth Conference Nov. 21-24 in Indianapolis. Below are three guest blogs she provided to the Catholic Review chronicling her experiences at the event. To read St. Ignatius, Hickory, parishioner Cleo Rolout’s blogs from the event, click here.
I am so excited for NCYC this year. We started out to meet our bus at Holy Trinity. I knew that this trip would be a great opportunity for me to improve my faith and become closer to God.
The bus trip was very long – throughout the night – and it was challenging to get some sleep. It was, anyway, a great time to bond with all my friends. Right when we got off the bus, we all filed into Ryan’s Buffet. We had arrived early, but they let us in as we waited for breakfast to be prepared. The staff was very kind to make sure that coffee and drinks were available as we waited. We left the buffet and headed to our hotels. It was still pretty early so our rooms were not ready yet. We dropped our bags off in a conference room and freshened up.
We were ready to leave for the convention center and thematic park. When we got there, we were so excited, we rushed in the doors. We met different people from many states. Everyone had a different hat. It was really cool. (We would wear our own crab hats the next day, but we spotted cheese heads from Wisconsin).
Everything was being traded as we made new friends. We had brought our hats, buttons, a T-shirt and other things from Maryland to trade.
Brendan Nussear of Orlando, Fla., spins a prize wheel Nov. 21 as Felician Sister Marie Eliana Remiszewski of Chicago looks on during the National Catholic Youth Conference at the Indiana Convention Center and Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. (CNS photo/Sean Gallagher, The Criterion)
After the thematic park, we went to California Pizza Kitchen for lunch/dinner. It was a great time just to hang out with the kids from my parish. We were tired so we walked around the mall a little just to keep our energy up until it was time for the opening session here in Indy for NCYC!
The NCYC opening was fantastic! They opened with a few bands and groups that I did not know, but then they brought out Matt Maher and that’s when I started to get up and really begin to have a great time. I was dancing, singing and praising my savior with my friends. That will be an experience I will never forget.
Here we go, second day of NCYC! I’m super pumped! We left our hotel at 8 a.m. after we had breakfast. We go on the bus and arrived at Lucas Oil Stadium about 20 minutes later.
There were so many good talks! Jesse Manibusan is really cool. He has an amazing faith in God which is so inspiring. It was a great way to start the morning off.
I went to a workshop later in the morning called “Mind Games.” The speaker was Brian Greenfield and he seriously connected very well with all the teens. He was talking about how this society has given up on truth and that they will follow the ways of the culture when what we need to do is follow God’s truth. He also says that the culture tells us that we can never be enough, which is true, but that is why God sent his son as savior because we cannot save ourselves. Jesus saves us.
The problem is that we are so lost in ourselves that we block God out. Even in the darkness, God makes Himself known to us, if we let him into our hearts. Then, we prayed and throughout the prayer, Brian was saying “think of someone that hurt you, think of someone that you hurt.” And we prayed for them. My youth group and I found it emotional and I really felt connected to God in that moment. I am so glad that I went to the “Mind Games” talk. It was truly inspiring.
This evening, we went to Lucas Oil Stadium for another general session. The keynote was Jackie Francois. She really connected with the teenagers. She spoke about how we should not conform to this society because it is horrible for our soul. We need Jesus in our lives to make us truly happy. She also said that we should care if people think we are a “Jesus freak” because we are the ones who are going to be happy all of our life as we rely on our savior, Jesus Christ.
The best part of the evening was when our archdiocese was on stage holding hands for the closing prayer and said the “Our Father. I could just feel the Holy Spirit in the stadium with us. Truly amazing.
Today was the last day of NCYC. When we woke, we went to breakfast and then headed off to the stadium. We went to the opening ceremony. Prayer included a group from Hawaii dancing and the keynote had this cool group from New Orleans doing a step performance and the leader of the group gave this amazing testimony.
We also went to the thematic park after a workshop. We made many new friends. I think it is cool to meet people from all over the world who share the same faith and have some of the same interests as you. I absolutely love that feeling.
After that, we went to lunch and went back to Lucas Oil Stadium for a bit with our new friends and then started to get ready for Mass, which was absolutely amazing. It was so powerful and I just felt God in the room.
Dan Raftis, 15, from St. Patrick Church in Owego, N.Y., prays after receiving Communion during the closing Mass of the National Catholic Youth Conference Nov. 23 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. . (CNS photo/Sam Oldenburg, Catholic Courier)
NCYC was truly an amazing experience for me. I met so many new people that were extremely kind to me. I was so blessed to have the opportunity to go to this conference. You have no idea how amazing it is to stand in a room with teens that love God with all they have. I fit in so well and I was able to be myself. NCYC could seriously change someone’s life. I recommend this conference for everyone to keep the church of tomorrow alive.