What is Your Passion?By: J.B. Kelly West Plains MO
Diocese celebrates 25th annual youth conference
Hundreds of teenage youth from across southern Missouri gathered in the West Plains Civic Center the weekend of March 23-25 to celebrate and participate in the 25th Annual Diocesan Youth Conference (DYC). Coordinated this year by the youth of St. Ann Parish in Carthage, the conference focused on the thematic question, “What is Your Passion?”
Featured Catholic speaker and musician Sean Forrest along with Sr. M. Karolyn Nunes, FSGM, served as the conference keynote presenters.
Fullness of Christ’s revelation
Drawing from Pope St. John Paul II’s encyclical “Fides et Ratio” (“Faith and Reason,”) Forrest shared insights on his own journey to Catholicism. He discussed the passion he now has as a disciple and his call to share the Good News through his worldwide travels and youth ministry.
Forrest encouraged the 437 present to resist the opinion that “it doesn’t matter what religion you are.”
“It matters!” Forrest said. “I became Catholic because it’s true and better than all other religions. [The Catholic Church] contains the fullness of God’s revelation!”
Reflecting on the Lord’s Passion as the youth prepared to commemorate Palm Sunday, Sr. Nunes spoke on the healing power of Christ—especially in the sacraments—and led a meditation on the “Anima Christi” (“Soul of Christ”) prayer as a way to prepare to “walk with Jesus through Holy Week.”
“His brokenness is the remedy for our brokenness,” Sr. Nunes said, adding that closely uniting ourselves to Christ and His Passion prepares one to be an “instrument of compassion and mercy.”
Fun, faith, and lip-sync battles
Workshops were held throughout the weekend on a variety of topics, including being a passionate, vibrant Catholic, vocations, and the Mass, for both youth and their adult leaders. An adult-only track focused on recognizing and helping kids in crisis.
Fun and fellowship is always a big part of the weekend. As youth deepen their Catholic identity through prayer and the sacraments, they also bond closer to one another in service and at “play.” On Saturday evening, everyone had the opportunity to participate in a variety of games and activities, including a rousing “Trivia Game” between youth groups, and a heated “Rock, Paper, Scissors” tournament, in which many priests participated. Sr. Nunes delighted all at the conference as she proved a formidable karaoke singer and lip-sync battler against Bp. Edward Rice. (You can see Bp. Rice sing Louis Armstrong’s, “What a Wonderful World,” at www.DioSCG.org).
A moving, candlelit Holy Hour and Eucharistic Procession with Bp. Rice was a powerful moment of the conference.
“DYC was an all around great experience,” said Abraham Figueroa, age 15, from Sacred Heart Parish, Webb City. “It fortified my faith and showed me that I’m not alone in my faith.”
Be unique & faithful
The weekend concluded with the Palm Sunday liturgy, during which Bp. Rice challenged the youth to “step out of the anonymous crowd” during Holy Week, and to strive to become ever closer to Christ.
“In saying ‘yes’ to Christ,” Bp. Rice said, “we give Him permission to invade every fiber of our being!”
Bishop Rice further commented that being in close relationship with Christ should change how one relates to others, and even how one dresses and conducts oneself. And while that may seem challenging, he said, “Following Christ has never been easy, in any generation.”
“But we have the ‘weapons’ we need for this ‘battle,” Bp. Rice said, “the sacraments.”
Bishop Rice encouraged the youth and adults to keep it going, long after DYC.
“When you get home and some of the energy from this weekend begins to wane, and all the activity of Holy Week is over,” Bp. Rice said, “remember: Jesus is so passionate for us that He was willing to die for us!”