By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger
Tens of thousands of teens will gather Nov. 19-21 at Lucas Oil Stadium and the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis for the biennial National Catholic Youth Conference. Around 800 teens and adults from the Diocese of Davenport will be in that group.
According to the National Catholic Youth Conference (NCYC) website, the three-day event allows for prayer, community and empowerment of high school teens and their adult chaperones. This year’s theme is Here I Am Lord.
Don Boucher, coordinator of youth and young adult ministry for the Diocese of Davenport, said 676 people have paid deposits and he anticipates another 119 to register for a total of 795 teens and adults.
In 2013, the last time NCYC was held, about 770 from the diocese attended.
Boucher says NCYC is important for two reasons. “Our young people today come to faith in a radically different fashion than ever before. Our young generation is a collector of experiences, and it’s these experiences that speak loudly to them.
“At NCYC, teens are immersed into a Catholic culture with 23,000 other young Catholics and their adult leaders. They not only hear the Catholic message of faith, but they also experience the charism of the faith in an exciting and dynamic way. The energy and enthusiasm created by so many young Catholics is simply awe-inspiring. This experience of the vitality of the Catholic faith inspires and energizes teens to a new and deeper level of interest in, hunger for and appreciation of their Catholic faith.
“Through research, experiences such as NCYC are proven to have a major impact on the faith life of youth. NCYC (and like experiences) should be a staple of parish youth ministry. In many ways, parishes are extremely short-sighted if they do not offer teens this opportunity because this is one thing we know works.”
For many teens to be able to attend NCYC, fundraisers are an important first step.
Mary-Ellen Pfeiffer, youth ministry coordinator for five parishes in Scott County, said 11 youths and seven adults from the cluster plan to attend at this point. She serves the parishes of St. Alphonsus, St. Anthony and St. Mary in Davenport, St. Andrew in Blue Grass and St. Peter in Buffalo.
Because the cluster youth group did not begin until last fall, fundraising is off to a late start, but several events are planned.
“We will have three different trivia nights in the cluster. We are contracting with Playcrafters Theater in Moline, Ill., for a benefit performance of ‘Driving Miss Daisy.’ And we are contracting with Comedy Sportz in Rock Island, Ill., to do two different dinner/show performances.”
The first trivia night is at St. Anthony on March 27. Doors open at 6 p.m., play starts at 6:30 p.m. Cost is $100 for a table of 10. Guys in Ties at the St. Alphonsus Fish Fry will be April 18 at 6 p.m. in the St. Alphonsus school cafeteria. Cost is $20 for adults and $10 for children (dinner and show).
Trivia Night will be held May 1 in St. Alphonsus school gym. Doors open at 6 p.m. Cost is $80 for a table of 8.
“Driving Miss Daisy” will be performed May 6 at Playcrafters Barn Theater, 4950 35th Ave., Moline. Cost is $13 per adult and $10 for youths under 18 and includes cookies and drink. Guys in Ties/spaghetti dinner, May 16, will begin at 6 p.m. in the Blue Grass Community Center. Cost is $15 for dinner and show, $10 for show only.
Parishes are doing individual fundraisers as well. St. Andrew Parish Council is taking freewill collections at soup suppers on Wednesday night, Pfeiffer said. St. Peter’s youths are offering the soup supper at their parish and childcare on Wednesday nights.
Tracy Russell, youth ministry coordinator at St. Anthony Parish in Knoxville, says 14 youths and four adults plan to attend.
“As of right now we have had a couple of fundraisers. We had a book sale in November. We asked the parish to donate gently used books and then invited the parish and the town to come and shop for books. We did a freewill donation for all of the books.
“We have an ongoing can drive that we started at the first of the year. We also provide desserts for each of our Lenten fish fry dinners. We partner with the Knights of Columbus and do a freewill donation for our desserts. The youths make the desserts and then stand and chat as people come through the line.”
Michelle Montgomery, coordinator of youth ministry at St. Thomas More Parish in Coralville, said the NCYC group held a community fundraiser to bring everyone together to celebrate Fat Tuesday/Mardi Gras.
“The group broke up into small committees to make it a grand celebration for everyone to attend and to enjoy. The goal was to service the community with great food, fun entertainment for both adults and youth and small children. To eat together, laugh together and enjoy each other. The groups were advertising, food, raffle, silent auctions/split the pot, carnival games, coloring contest and a parade with a jazz band. It was a huge success,” Montgomery said.
Cease Cady, director of religious education and coordinator of youth ministry at S. John & Paul Parish in Burlington and Ss. Mary & Patrick Parish, West Burlington, said 26 youths, five adults and one priest plan to attend NCYC.
Fundraisers include a trivia night every winter at Notre Dame in Burlington, participation in Birdies for Charity every summer, a vendor/craft show in May at Ss. Mary & Patrick Parish, selling Younkers’ Community Days booklets and hosting cow chip Bingo.
For previous games of cow chip Bingo behind Ss. Mary & Joseph, Cady said “We had squares spray painted in the grass and a snow fence around the perimeter. The youths sold ‘deeds’ to parcels of land and wherever the cow left a chip, the parcel holder won half of the pot which was $485. The cow was my daughter’s County Fair bucket bottle calf and she does not have a calf anymore so I am in search of another cow.”
JoAnn McLin, faith formation/youth coordinator at St. Mary Parish in Centerville, said eight youths and three chaperones will attend NCYC.
“We have just now started fundraising with selling desserts at our Friday night fish fries during Lent. We have this fundraiser even in the off years of NCYC so we are continually making funds to help send the next group. In the future we hope to have an Italian dinner and possibly a parish breakfast. But no dates have been set for those. We collect redeemable beverage containers on an ongoing basis and usually make $350-450 a year on those.”
The Centerville parish’s fundraising goal is $3,000-$3,500. “Hopefully we can fundraise a little extra so the next NCYC group in 2017 has some funds to start with.”
Luke Ebener, director of youth and young adult ministry at St. Paul the Apostle Parish in Davenport, said 60 youths and 12 adults are going. “This is such a great event for everyone who attends as it shows youth that they are not alone in trying to live their faith, equips them with real and relevant ways to live their faith, and you see them afterwards just on fire for Jesus and the Catholic faith! The place is flooded with energy and grace!”
St. Paul’s has Euchre nights planned for April 25 and May 22. These will start at 6:30 p.m. in Denning Hall. Baked goods will be sold, soft drinks provided and a freewill offering accepted. A refresher course starts at 6 p.m. if it’s been a while since you’ve played Euchre.