University of Notre Dame grotto. Photograph by Amy Elkins.

Youth attend Notre Dame Vision Conference in Indiana

Originally Appeared in : 9915-7/18/19

On the morning of June 24, 14 youth and their adult chaperones anxiously awaited the flight that would take them to South Bend, Indiana for the Notre Dame (ND) Vision Youth Ministry Conference. The beauty of ND Vision is there are actually two conferences going on at one time. The youth ministry conference, which has a few hundred youth, places each youth in a small group with others from around the country. Within these small groups the youth are able to really connect with others, and as groups they grow together in their faith.


Esperansa Popoca from Our Divine Savior Church in Tifton said, “I never thought I could relate to other people who were from a different part of the country. It was great to know we have a deep faith.” The second conference that runs simultaneously with the youth conference is the Conference for Youth Ministers (CYM). There are some large group sessions that the youth and adults share together but ultimately the conferences are designed to keep the youth and the youth ministers separated so both groups are fed spiritually. The CYM conference is specifically designed to spiritually feed the youth ministers while the small group leaders and head staff of ND Vision keep the youth safe and connected to God.


One very powerful part of the CYM conference was walking the outdoor Stations of the Cross. Juan Carlos Gaytan from Tifton said “Meditating on each station with fellow youth ministers, and getting to the 12th station and seeing Christ on the cross being crucified for me, it was a reminder of the great love he has for me, for us. Stations of the Cross at Notre Dame Vision was a unique and very spiritual experience that I will always remember.” Other spiritual events included Mass at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, reconciliation at the basilica, Mass at the seminary and the closing Mass which was offered in the same location as most of the large sessions. 


Ultimately everyone who attended from the Diocese of Savannah came home with a deeper love for the Lord and their Catholic faith. Reyna Balderas said, “It was a wonderful experience where I met new people who practice my same faith.” As everyone returned to Georgia on their various flights, the common conversations were of the great week and how everyone felt spiritually fed and much closer to Christ. 


Amy Elkins is the former Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry for the Diocese of Savannah and now serves as a teacher and coach in Richmond Hill. 

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