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National Catholic Youth Conference sets hearts ablaze

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Ringing in the New Year, we reflect on the past year and our journey through the Advent season meant to prepare us for Christmas and the coming New Year.

Whenever anything is difficult, interruptive to your life and/or something you go into with trepidation I say to groups, “It’s a pilgrimage.”

Laura Hansen, Jill Higgins and I took Sacred Heart Catholic High School Youth Group on one such pilgrimage.

In November, prior to beginning the Advent season, we traveled to Indianapolis, Indiana, for the National Catholic Youth Conference (NCYC) to encounter our faith through teaching and worship targeted toward 15,000 high school students and youth leaders.

Our “pilgrimage” included six weeks of summer fundraising, presentations to our church groups, countless meetings for students and parents, a 26-hour round trip bus ride, lots of fast food, sore feet and tired bodies. It also included smiles, hugs, tears of joy, a flood of emotion and spiritual growth.

In the December 17 edition of “The Catholic Mirror,” Hansen said she enjoyed watching the youth she chaperoned realize that “life isn’t just about them. It’s a bigger picture, being surrounded by that many Catholic individuals.”

Following are a number of responses about ABLAZE! NCYC 2021 from Sacred Heart Catholic Church youth.

• “My heart felt ABLAZE during the music. You could feel everyone’s energy singing and dancing to the songs for Jesus. Hearing the words and feeling the energy lit the fire in my heart. I hope to carry that fire throughout the next year.” – John, high school senior

• “It’s (my heart) ABLAZE because God lit it during the NCYC experience and helped to open my eyes.” – Colton, high school junior

• “This trip has made me more at peace. It has made me realize that I need to spend more time with GOD. The trip was a lot of fun with all the people.” - Jerry, high school junior

• “For the past year, I’ve struggled with being as strong in my faith as I once was. Life throws some unexpected things your way sometimes but Christ never said it was going to be easy. I was anxious that I wouldn’t connect with NCYC like I did on the 2019 trip. The feeling of peace I felt as I let go of everything except being there reassured me that I still have God looking out for me. My heart is full and alight with a flame that God is always within you, even when you feel in the dark. Thank you NCYC 2021 for showing me that I’m never lost, God always wants you.” Tally, high school senior

• “My heart is ABLAZE because I finally opened it to the HOLY SPIRIT!” Erin, high school junior

• “NCYC has really brought my attention to how much GOD has given me to be thankful for.” Thomas, high school sophomore

• “When the whole place is quiet, it just gets so emotional. I just have never felt anything like that. It is great. That is when my heart was ABLAZE.” Kortney, high school junior

• “My heart felt ABLAZE when we were all in Mass. When I looked into the crowd and everyone was receiving communion. It just reminded of how many people really are children of God and how great God was in that moment.” Kylon, high school junior

• “My heart is ablaze from the great variety of people. I was amazing to see how many people just like me are accepting Christ. I enjoyed the musicians that were singing about the Lord.” Austin, high school sophomore

• “Being with all the other people reinforced my faith.” Aiden, high school senior

• “My heart is ABLAZE from all the people I met and seeing over 10,000 people give their hearts out to God and the music that they played I really enjoyed.” E.J., high school senior

• “NCYC changed me, it showed me how to be myself and that I am not the only one who believes in what I believe. I’m now proud of my Catholicism and if asked I would tell whomever that I am Catholic. I also made two friends at the piano and we sang a couple songs and exchanged SNAPS. I had so much fun at NCYC and I can officially say my heart is ABLAZE!” Owen, high school sophomore

I can’t think of a better way to serve our church than to invest my time into the next generation of mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, priests and laypersons becoming young adult witnesses of Christ. We as adult leaders of our church and faith make a New Year’s resolution to continue on the journey toward Christ and prepare ourselves and our youth for His second coming.

We invite you and your family on this pilgrimage to journey with us and invite Jesus into your life. Our youth programming is Wednesday evenings beginning with a meal and followed by youth ministry teaching. Our Sunday service Mass times are Saturday at 4 p.m. and Sunday at 10:30 a.m. For anyone interested in our church, our services and our programs, contact our Priest Fr. Joel McNeil at 712-643-5808 or myself, Andrea Harper, at 712-592-1532 or Laura Hansen at 712-592-1980.


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