Youth conference: Rowdy to reverent

Thursday, December 12, 2019 - Updated: 12:48 pm

INDIANAPOLIS (CNS) — Outside, a cold drizzle dampened Indianapolis Nov. 21.

Inside the city’s convention center, however, it seemed as if the pure joy and enthusiasm of 20,000 people — mostly high school youths — would have held off the damp chill even if the building hadn’t.

But in a heartbeat, the crowd went from rowdy to reverent. They knelt in silence as a Eucharistic procession twined through the Indiana Convention Center, the Blessed Sacrament held aloft in a monstrance carried by Indianapolis Archbishop Charles Thompson.

These joyful, worshipping people hailed from 145 dioceses around the country — and even from Australia, Canada and England. They came to participate in the largest biennial Catholic youth gathering in the United States: the National Catholic Youth Conference, or NCYC, held this year from Nov. 21-23.

The theme this year was “Blessed. Broken. Given.” To explore the theme and to encourage youths to read Scripture daily, four general sessions held in Lucas Oil Stadium across from the convention center explored the story of the Road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35) during the course of the conference.

At the opening general session on a chilly night, the youths first warmed up with the musical praise of the band For King and Country.

“Dear young people of NCYC,” said Pope Francis in his first recorded address to conference participants.

“I send you an affectionate greeting and my prayers at this moment of encounter that you are living,” he said, occasionally lifting his eyes from a transcript to the camera. “May it be an opportunity to deepen your faith and communion. May it light your missionary hearts with the courage and strength to live in and with the Lord, always as a church sent forth.”

Pope Francis reminded the young people of their call to be given — to the world.

“Today, as in the beginning, we need to go out to meet each person,” said the Holy Father in his recorded message. “It is our mission to do so, especially with those most separated and those who are suffering most.”

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