Saturday night, I sat in the lobby of our hotel and asked the kids from my parish what their favorite thing of NCYC was and there were a number of good answers. For me though, I would like to list my top ten amazing things about NCYC. Well, it was GOING to be top ten but I couldn't stop! So starting with number fourteen and going to number 1:
- Number 14-The Music--How can anyone think of NCYC and not think about he music?? It is everywhere! Every session started with warm up bands--from John Angotti to Celili Rain to Rightous B and DJ Bill Lange. The emcee's Steve Angrisano and Jesse Manibussan kept the music rolling throughout the sessions along with the teen choir and the animators (teens from the diocese who did an amazing time singing, dancing and performing) The music didn't stop at the Sprint Center though. At the convention center there were bands playing all day long at the Rein Forrest Cafe, there was music in the Power & Light District and different sessions had musicians such at Matt Maher playing
- Number 13-The Speakers--Each of the speakers brought some great messages with them that really spoke to the young church. Thursday night started with NFCYM executive director bob McCarty REPELLING from the rafters of Sprint Center telling the kids how we, as Christians need to Show up, Step up, and Step out. Friday morning Cardinal DiNardo and Brian Johnson spoke. That evening the kids heard from Jason and Crystallina Evert speak about sex. Many of people's favorite speakers were at Saturday morning's sessions. Five different teens from around the country spoke on how God has affected them and what they are doing to have an impact on the world around them.
- Number 12--The Police Presence--You can't come to Roman Catholic Cop.com and not expect me say what an amazing job my department did can you?? My brothers in blue really made me proud. They blocked traffic and provided protection for all the visitors. How big of an area did they have to cover?? There were buses parked for a mile south of the Sprint Center in a three block span. The distance from Sprint Center to the convention center was nearly a mile. The whole Power and Light District was packed with kids. I know officers who had to change days off and some worked sixteen hour days.
- Number 11--The People Behind the Scenes--I cannot even imagine everything that goes on behind the scenes of an operation like this not only on the national level but on the diocesan level. Someone has to set up the stage, design the layout of the thematic park, coordinate an army of volunteers, determine where buses will be parked. Someone had to coordinate the paperwork, get the hotel rooms lined up and sort name tags. I got just a brief peek at the hard work just a couple of these people and they are the reason that things appear to go off without a hitch to the participants.
- Number 10--The Size--Over 20,000 participants!! That is how many people came to Kansas City for NCYC. There were kids EVERYWHERE. There were so many people that Sprint Center could not contain everyone and some participants had to view the general sessions via closed circuit television from the Ball Room at the Convention Center.
- Number 9--The Attire--The uniform of the day at NCYC is "goofy." People are wearing shirts coordinated for their parish or diocese. About a forth of the people are wearing goofy hats. I saw pirate hats, cow hats, sheep hats, flamingo hats and reindeer hats. I may have even been wearing reindeer antlers myself. Everyone has their credentials around their neck with their name on them. Clipped to the credentials are "swaps"--different pins, clips and other assorted items. Also around necks are beads and necklaces made of plastic cheese. Everyone has glow in the dark bracelets and necklaces and other things that light, shine and blink.
- Number 8--Meeting people--All that goofy attire and swaps makes it easier for the kids to approach and meet other people from across the country. My parish volunteered at a food kitchen for the poor. Not only did they get the opportunity to serve the poor they also met other kids who were volunteering. My personal favorite--I got to meet Mark Hart, aka The Bible Geek, and Lino Rulli, host of The Catholic Guy Show heard on The Catholic Channel on Sirius/XM Radio. Two people that I look up to and hope to learn from.
- Number 7--The Assurance that the Church is in good hands--Obviously, we have the assurance in scripture that Jesus will be with the Church until the end of times but seeing all of these kids and their passion and their love of God makes you sit back let out a big sigh of relief and realize that we are in good hands.
- Number 6--Workshops--There were five different workshop sessions. Each session had a selection of a dozen different workshops. There were a wide variety of speakers from Bob Rice to Mark Hart to Fr. Tony. There were sessions for Youth Ministers to parents. There was something for everyone!
- Number 5--The Emcee's--Steve Angrisano and Jesse Manibussan were the emcee's from both Sprint and the ballroom. Both are funny and inspiring. The keep the kids excited and pumped about their faith.
- Number 4--Eucharistic Procession--On Friday morning Bishop Finn and Archbishop Naumann led a Eucharistic procession from Sprint Center along 14th Street to the Adoration Chapel. Imagine 20,000 youth literally taking Jesus to the streets!! Can't imagine it?? Well, I've included a picture I took from the Catholic Key blog. That mass of humanity that you see actually stretches around to the back side of the Sprint Center there in the back ground.
- Number 3--Adoration--Saturday afternoon I slipped into the Adoration "chapel." This "chapel" was bigger than many churches! I expect that it could fit 1000 people and at the time I was there I expect there were close to seven to eight hundred kids praying in front of the blessed sacrament. When I walked in my jaw literally dropped.
- Number 2--Reconciliation--I may be jaded but I love reconciliation. It's one of my top seven sacraments. So I decided that I would go and take some of the kids from my group with me. I thought my jaw dropped when I saw the reconciliation chapel?? Nothing compared to when I saw the line for reconciliation. The line stretched for probably nearly 100 yards--the length of a football field and was two or three people across. Unfortunately, I expect the size of the line scared some away but it went really fast. It took me about ten minutes to get to the front of the line. I won't say how long it took for my confession though. The area set aside for reconciliation was also a huge room. There were about fifty priests in the room at the time listening to confessions for two hour stretches. This line was like this all day!!!!
- Number 1--Mass--Saturday evening, the end of NCYC 2009 was mass. As Steve Angrisano said, "We saved the best for last." Obviously, mass is always supposed to be fantastic. It IS the combination of Heaven and Earth I mean but this mass was big! Have you ever been to a mass where the bishop was there and there was a couple of priests concelebrating with him? Imagine going to a mass in an arena and there are eleven bishops there and a couple hundred priests! We heard an amazing homily from Bishop Soto. I'm not sure how long the mass actually took but it had to have been over two hours. Communion itself, from the time of "Lord, I am not worthy to receive you but only say the word and I shall be healed" to final prayer took about 45 minutes! And did I mention that there was another mass being said at the ballroom????
I think a good nickname for NCYC would be NC"WOW"C because for three days all you can say is "WOW!!" NCYC 2011 will be in Indianapolis--ten years after they hosted in in 2001. There are 20,000 people who can't wait but until then, I will see you in the Eucharist and remember---"YOU ARE LOVED!!"
Note--the general sessions and many of the workshops were shown live online and will be available for views at mycatholicvoice.com