Coming Down from the Mountain
11/24/2009 1:49 PM
A few final reflections on the National Catholic Youth Conference . . . some highlights:
I had the chance to catch up with Emily Marsh - a former Diocesan Youth Board member and CLI alumna - who is now a postulant with the Daughters of St. Paul (their blog, plus photo of my visit with Emily at http://fsppostulants.blogspot.com/). It was great to hear about her experiences in religious life and to see how vocations can be nurtured through good youth ministry.
The general sessions on Saturday were amazing. In the morning, we heard from 5 young people who each gave witness to how Christ reigns in their lives. They talked about their faith and how they live out their call to discipleship. Saturday evening was the close of the conference and the closing Mass - a wonderful liturgical experience that helped to send us off celebrating Christ our King!
We made it home, safe and sound, after an 18 hour bus trip from Kansas City to Buffalo (stopping at Westfield, NY to drop off our Southern Tier pilgrims). So "NCYC - the event" is officially over. Hopefully, "NCYC - the faith experience" is still ongoing for those who attended. Coming "down from the mountaintop" is always difficult after experiences like these. Words so often fail us when people ask "How was it?" How do you describe the sights and sounds of the weekend? How do you explain what it meant, and what has transformed in your heart and soul?
My prayer for our pilgrims is that we all find ways to integrate what we've experienced into our everyday lives. I hope that the young people have people in their lives that they can talk with about the experience - friends, parents, youth ministers, pastors. They need people who will listen to them, affirm them, and help them discover ways to act on their inspiration. I hope that the parishes who sent young people to NCYC will make room for these teens - make room to hear about their experiences, and make room in leadership, service and ministry within the parish. I hope these young people found one or two life-changing messages in this NCYC weekend that they will hold onto firmly - messages that they can rest solidly on, messages that will bring them hope and inspiration whenever they find themselves in the valley instead of on the mountaintop.
As we approach Thanksgiving, I'm reminded to be grateful for youthful energy and the mountaintop moments. The young Catholic Church is alive and well in the United States - for that, let us all be thankful!