Adoration, against the backdrop of music performed by the Wichita Adore Ministries, closed out night two of the annual Diocesan Youth Conference. Photographs by Jessica L. Marsala.

Teens asked to be proactive about futures at annual conference

Originally Appeared in : 9904-2/14/19

MACON--What distinguished this year’s Diocesan Youth Conference (DYC), held Feb. 1-3 at the Marriott City Center in Macon, was not the sessions offered, number of participants, or even the location—though all were unique in their own way.


As in past years, approximately 200 high school-aged teens from parishes throughout the diocese gathered for a weekend to grow in their faith.


To help them on their path to holiness, they learned from this year’s keynote speaker Joel Stepanek, LifeTeen’s Director of Resource Development, attended various catechetical workshops—this year based on the theme “Spes,” which is Latin for hope—and participated in adoration, communion and reconciliation. 


However, more than in previous years, teens were asked to consider how to “not fall apart,” as per the title of one of the Saturday workshops offered, after they left Macon and the conference ended.


Video presentations and live testimonials scattered throughout the weekend encouraged teens to participate in different youth groups, camps and activities, both in the diocese and without, and for the first time in years, they also had the opportunity to personally interact with the leaders of these groups by visiting their booths set up in the hallway of the conference center. Among the groups represented: Prayer and Action and Net Ministries.


First-time DYC attendee Shelby Adams, 14, a parishioner of St. Michael Church on the Fort Gordon military base in Columbus, remarked that this community aspect especially impacted her.


“I like how they reach out and how they are and how they try to get you connected with everything and how they have so many programs that we can do,” Adams said.


The weekend ended with a Mass, celebrated by Bishop Gregory J. Hartmayer, OFM Conv., who relayed his own hope that the teens would let DYC change them and help them in their process of becoming holy, as God calls all humans to be. 


As a means to better illustrate the impact and importance of love, as defined by St. Paul in the Gospel reading from 1 Corinthians 12-13, the bishop shared two stories. In the second story he explained how one man, who was jostled by another while carrying a cup of coffee, reacted in anger although it would have cost him nothing to show love. 


 “Today, let’s be proactive,” Bishop Hartmayer said. “Let’s start by filling our cups with forgiveness and kindness and empathy, so that when we are shaken, when someone bumps into us figuratively or literally, that, what’s in our cup, will come out.”


Before communion, the bishop and concelebrating priests also blessed attendees’ throats in recognition of the Feast of St. Blaise, which is celebrated annually on Feb. 3.  

See more photos on our Smugmug gallery.

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