By Sarah Moser
As I entered the practice room with 70 strangers, I had no idea the next three days would give me a whole new outlook on my faith. Nor did I think I would have such a great time or meet the wonderful people I did. I was just there to sing some songs and learn dances to perform in November for the National Catholic Youth Conference (NCYC) in Kansas City.
The experience made me want to be even more involved in my church and to tell others about the cool things the church has to offer.
On July 24 through July 26 the Youth Animator Formation Program was held at the Savior Pastoral Center in Kansas City, Kan. About 70 youth from across the nation were chosen to be animators at NCYC, based on an audition tape and a five-question form about ourselves. Animators are youth (grades nine-12) who perform on stage during the conference in areas such as dancing, singing, movement and helping with the closing Mass.
This was not a retreat; it was a training program. However, as I look back, it did all the things a retreat normally does for me. It brought me closer to God, this time through music and movement instead of discussions. It also brought me new friends, but this time they are not only from my diocese, they are from coast to coast. All of the youth who were there wanted to be there; this also made the experience more moving for me. Everyone was so passionate about what they were doing. It was truly inspirational.
As the second day was in motion we all started to “blend,” both musically and socially. The songs we learned the day before were already sounding better and our dance moves even improved. As we ate lunch the second day, we had established our small groups of friends and were acting as if we had known each other for months or even years! We were all rather outgoing so many of us found ourselves going up to someone and just starting a conversation. It was helpful that everyone there was Catholic and already had something in common; it made making new friends easier.
Now I enjoy singing in church, whereas before the training I was hesitant to do so. But what’s there to lose, right? I am also trying to incorporate my faith more into my daily life and life in general through prayer, keeping in contact with the new friends I have made and also in deciding to go to a college where I can still have a strong faith.
NCYC is a truly moving and awesome experience. I can’t even use words to describe how great it really is. It affects everyone differently, but in an extremely profound way. The animators I have seen at NCYC had an effect on me; they inspired me to be one this time around. The keynote speakers inspired me as well with their stories. Father Tony (a keynote speaker from 2007) made it cool to be Catholic, through his way of telling the story of creation. There are numerous speakers and all have inspiring stories to tell. At NCYC there are 20,000 Catholics all in one place worshiping, praying, singing and playing as one … that will give anyone goose bumps!
If you would like to attend NCYC 2009 this November, contact your youth minister ASAP. If you don’t have a youth minister, contact Pat Finan, the diocesan coordinator for youth ministry at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Sarah Moser, 17, attends St. Mary’s Parish in Oxford and is a senior at Clear Creek Amana High School.)