Teens and adults in parish youth ministry in the Albany Diocese are gearing up for a trip to Indianapolis for the National Catholic Youth Conference Nov. 21-23.
There are 280 Catholics from 31 parishes in the Diocese registered for the conference, which is expected to draw up to 25,000 people. NCYC includes talks, Masses, reconciliation, workshops, service work, concerts and more.
Parishes have been fundraising to send youth to the event since the last NCYC in 2011; it costs up to $1,000 per person. St. Thomas parish in Delmar raised $5,000 to send seven teens. The Catholic community of St. Patrick's in Athens and Catskill did fundraisers and collections to send five teens and three adults.
Cathy DeDominicis, a 16-year-old from St. Mary's parish in Oneonta, is looking forward to her first time at NCYC. The junior at Delaware Academy in Delhi has been explaining it this way to friends: "I'm going to meet new people, hang out with my friends [and] talk about Jesus. That sounds like fun."
Cathy has been watching videos on the conference's website (www.ncyc.nfcym.org, where live videos will be streamed during the event) and listening to musicians who will be featured. She's also attended national Catholic service camps and Journey retreats in the Diocese (see story on page 11).
"You go to church and it's all serious," Cathy noted. "Journey is a very casual way to be in your faith, and I hope NCYC will be similar."
St. Mary's parish in Ballston Spa is sending nine teens, all first-timers, to this year's NCYC. "They're excited - not just for the trip and the fun, but the prayer experience, the Mass, the music," said youth minister Jake Stomieroski.
He's been to every NCYC since 1993 and has no problems finding interested teens; he asks altar servers, catechists or past participants in diocesan events like the Christian Leadership Institute. He tells them NCYC is hard to describe "in words, but you're going to come back changed [and] see there's 25,000 kids out there who act just like you do."