Monday, November 21, 2011

Fifteen Amazing Things About NCYC 2011

We got back home from Indianapolis where I participated in the 2011 National Catholic Youth Conference.  This was my third NCYC and they have all been simply amazing.   After the 2009 NCYC, held at home here in Kansas City, I posted a blog titled, "Fourteen Amazing Things About NCYC."   Truth be told, I had difficulty stopping at fourteen so, I figured I would add on this year and rewrite it to make it applicable for this year.   So, here is the 2011 edition of amazing things at NCYC.  Some of these are taken from last years because there is just no way to leave them off any list but I did try to make new items.

  • Number 15---Lucas Oil Stadium.  This was a fantastic location for the general sessions.  I really think that with the large number of people there, you need to have it in a football stadium.  When you are in an arena, like it was last year at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, you had to make sure to get to the arena early in order to get good seats or else you would be in the "nose bleed" sections.  At Lucas Oil, even if you were late, you could get great seats and feel like you very close to the action.  (I would still recommend getting there early so you don't miss out on the warm-up bands.)
  • Number 14---All of the Religious People  Everywhere you looked there were priests and nuns having a good time.  Heck, one night I was walking back to my hotel and walking next to me was a bishop--a successor to the apostles standing next to me waiting for the traffic signal to change!  This is incredible to me.  I think it is great for the teens to see these religious people as people just like them.  People who enjoy having a good time.  I also think it's good for the priests and the nuns and the bishops to see the young people loving their faith.
  • Number 13---The Food.  Some attendees may be thinking I am crazy to list food considering the lines to some of the food places.  Yes, it can be difficult but it can be done.  With pre-planning and reservations you can find some great food.  Thursday night we had diner at Buca di Beppo before the general session and we were in and out in 45 minutes.  Friday night we had great pizza at this hole in the wall pizza shoppe that was so secluded that it was like finding Diagon Alley.  (We are going to back in 2013 so I'm not giving up where it is)  Finally, our diocese had dinner at Hard Rock Cafe on Friday night.  A great opportunity for kids from different parishes to meet and interact.
  • Number 12---Everything is Just Right.   I'm not sure there is room for growth at NCYC.   Well, sure, there is, but I don't know how.  After all, a million people descended on Madrid, Spain for a week in August.  I think that is extreme though.  Twenty-three thousand Catholics is a lot of people and there are times when places are cramped. Yet having that many people just intensifies the excitement and adds a sense of awe.  Three days is also a long time to be jam-packed with that many people.  After that and I think people would start to get testy.  Any shorter than that and it's just not the same.  I think the size and the length of NCYC is just right.
  • Number 11---You get to miss school/work.  This has two advantages.  The first one is---you get to miss school and/or work!  I don't think I need to expand and that.  The second is that it gives you an opening to share your faith.  You've missed two or three days and you come back and people are sure to ask where you've been or what you've been doing.  At the same time, you are still all jazzed up and excited.  What a perfect opportunity to share Jesus with someone.
  • Number 10---Positive Attitudes.  Imagine 23,000 people in one space for 3 days.  You would think that tempers would be flaring.  Yeah, there are times when people get frustrated but it's short lived.  That type of attitude just doesn't survive in the NCYC environment.  So many people being happy and excited for their faith and negativity just doesn't have a chance.
  • Number 9---The Quotes.  There are so many great speakers and so many great things being said.  I took some advice from a friend and took a journal and took notes during some of the sessions so I can remember them (great idea for youth ministers---make your kids travel journals so they have a place to put their memories)  I'm now able to remember that Mark Hart told me that "Prayer IS our relationship with God."  Or Mike Patin telling me, "Be who you are called to be and we will set the world ablaze!" (Okay--he quoted St. Katherine of Sienna---but he still told it to me in a great session)  Or Fr. Tony telling me to "Don't be Stupid!"
  • Number 8---The Expo Center---WOW!!  Areas for vocations, areas for eating, people selling Catholic books, jewlery, tee-shirts.  Areas for universities.  Areas for HUMAN FOOSBALL!  Being able to meet your favorite Catholic celebrity.  Fun fun place to be.  
  • Number 7---It Just HAS to Bother Satan.  The Devil is the big loser in all of this.  People who are already in love with Jesus have that love set on fire.  Those who have let that fire dwidle get reinvigorated.  Those who done really know Jesus, get to know him.  Sin is talked about.  Hell is talked about.  Evil is brought into the light.  The Devil hates that.
  • Number 6--It is pleasing to God.  It would have been interesting to be in Heaven when 23000 people  are reciting the Hail Mary or when thousands of people receive the sacrament of reconciliation.  People singing His praise and offering themselves to Him.  Surely He had a smile.
  • Number 5---Knocking out the cell network two times in one day.   At the Saturday morning session, Mike Patin had the kids take out their cell phones and at the same time send someone back home a texts saying, "I care for you.  I'm praying with 23,000 other people for you."  That night at mass, Bishop Coyne again had everyone take out their phones and send out a text, a tweet or a status update saying, "We are called to glory!"   I'm sure that many texts or tweets going out at the same moment just had to wreck the cell network---even if it was just for a second.
  • Number 4---The universality of the Church and NCYC.   Several of the sessions were streamed on the interwebs.  So, while there were all these people watching mass from Lucas Oil Stadium there were thousands of others watching on their computers from crazy places like the Vatican and China.   This shows that the Catholic Church truly is Universal.  It is all around the world.
  • Number 3---Youth Ministers.  This could not have been done if it wasn't for all of the hard work done by youth ministers back home.   I know they start recruiting people to go and planning over a year in advance.  Travel arrangements, food arrangements.  I can't imagine how many hours goes into organizing a group to go.  My parish, Holy Family, is blessed to have the best youth minister in the world--Heather Neds.  She makes the whole weekend end appear seamless and ensures that everything runs smooth so that the kids have a great time.  
  • Number 2--Reminders from God that it doesn't End.  We loaded on the bus Saturday night thinking we were a short sleep filled 10 hour bus ride from home.  We thought we'd be getting in Sunday morning as people were filing in for mass.  Not so fast.  We had a slight mechanical difficulty with the bus and had to sit at a truck stop for a couple hours before limping to a motel in order to get some sleep and a shower while they figured out what to do.  About 1pm Sunday afternoon, another bus came and picked us up to take us the rest of the way.  Twenty-one hours after we left Indy, we pulled into Holy Family.  God granted us a 12 hour extension to NCYC.  And the kids kept a great attitude through it all, even though they were tired and had homework to do.  I hope they realize, NCYC doesn't end there---they have to take what they learned with them.
  • Number 1--My Daughter.  This is my third NCYC and my 11th year being involved in youth ministry as a catechist.  It is my first time my oldest, Emma, has been involved and it was great to spend time with her.  We went to one break-out session together.  We spent time in line for reconciliation together.  Time here, time there.  Lots of valuable bonding time and I treasured every minute of it.
Well, I thought I would have to repeat things from my last list, such as the mass or reconciliation.   I could go on and on and list many other things that are incredible about NCYC.  I simply love going there.  It's like a great big CatholicCon for a Catholic geek like me.  Hopefully, I'll have a repeat after the 2013 NCYC, which will be November 21-23, also in Indy so I'll put them there.  


  1. Great list! Glad to hear it was such a good time!

  2. Love this list! And I love that your time with Emma is #1 - she's a sweet heart.

  3. Thank you for putting the experience together so eloquently. It was my first time at NCYC and I went as a volunteer. I found it difficult to put my experience into words, and I was still dancing and singing as I walked into church on Sunday. Thanks again and God Bless you.

  4. Great article, I'm hoping to go in 2013 with my own daughter! By the way, I love your tribute to your uncle Dave, and I'll certainly pray for him. But the object in the photo looks more like a "ciborium" for holding the consecrated hosts, rather than a "chalice" for the blood of Christ, mainly due to the presence of the lid (for reposing the Blessed Sacrament in a tabernacle). Whatever it is, its a beautiful vessel and a great tribute.

  5. very cool. I was wondering how old a kid has to be to go to that with my husband. Because my oldest will be 12 in the fall of 2013. I'm guessing if this was the first time your daughter, Emma, went, then perhaps she'd still be too young then?