Sixty-three youth, young adults, and ministry leaders from the Diocese of Camden gathered with 25,000 other Catholic youth in Indianapolis, Ind., recently for the National Catholic Youth Conference (NCYC), and declared themselves “Signed, Sealed, and Delivered” in the Catholic faith.
From Nov. 21-23, the youth made known that they were signed with the cross in baptism, sealed with the Holy Spirit in confirmation, and delivered from their sins through Communion.
The pilgrims from the Camden Diocese represented Gloucester Catholic High School and six parishes of the diocese: Christ the Redeemer, Atco; Christ the Good Shepherd, Vineland; Holy Angels, Woodbury; St. Josephine Bakhita, Camden; Our Lady of Peace, Williamstown; and St. Gianna Beretta Molla, Northfield.
Two Camden representatives received a national scholarship from the National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry, the presenter for the biennial conference.
“Experiences (like NCYC) help the youth see the faith traditions of the larger church,” said Greg Coogan, director of Young Adult Ministry for the Diocese of Camden.
During the three days, youth attended workshops on a range of topics such as Christian leadership; finding joy amidst sorrow; the pros and cons of social networking; and Christ’s call to service.
Leading these workshops were national speakers such as chastity advocate Leah Darrow; musician Matt Maher; Auxiliary Bishop Christopher Coyne of Indianapolis; and Patrick Donovan, executive director of Catholic Youth and Young Adult Ministry for the Diocese of Wilmington.
In addition, youth could participate in daily Mass; pray in front of the Blessed Sacrament; hear musical performances; and engage in fellowship.
The trip was a “life-changing” experience for 16-year old George Creel, a member of the John Paul II Young Adult group from Our Lady of Peace Parish in Williamstown.
A first-time attendee who heard about NCYC from older sisters Kaitlyn and Sarah, past attendees who accompanied their brother to Indianapolis, George served as one of the ambassadors for the conference, introducing speaker Msgr. Raymond East, pastor of St. Teresa of Avila in Washington, D.C., before one of his talks, and leading workshop attendees in prayer.
George mentioned that the Camden delegation met youth from Hawaii, who presented him and his group with peace necklaces. In the same manner, back in South Jersey, he hopes to bring “welcoming and loving” to all he encounters.
Jared Kern, also a member of the John Paul II youth group, said the conference “an inspiring experience for me to meet other youth who share the same morals and values as I do. Gathering together for Mass with 25,000 people is mind-blowing and really shows how our generation can keep the church alive.”
Kari Janisse, coordinator of Youth and Young Adult Ministry at Our Lady of Peace Parish in Williamstown, was happy to see the youth inspired in Indianapolis. Now, she says, they must bring that enthusiasm for the Catholic faith to the Camden Diocese.
“My hope is that they preach what they have learned,” she said.