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Youth processed in at the opening Mass of the National Catholic Youth Conference at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis Nov. 18.
Youth processed in at the opening Mass of the National Catholic Youth Conference at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis Nov. 18.
Photo Credit: John Shaughnessy | The Criterion

Youths at National Catholic Youth Conference encouraged to ‘keep the fire alive’

About 11,000 teens took part in three-day conference in Indianapolis

INDIANAPOLIS — At the closing Mass of the National Catholic Youth Conference, Indianapolis Archbishop Charles C. Thompson encouraged the nearly 11,000 teens from across the country to return home with the fire of the Holy Spirit.

“Let us go forth with that fire to more fully embrace the Lord’s mission in bringing about the kingdom of God, striving always to be Christ-centered in all that we are about,” said Archbishop Thompson. “Let us go and be disciples. Let us go and make a difference. … Let us take courage. His dominion is indeed everlasting. The glory of God shall not be denied.”

The Nov. 20 Mass in Lucas Oil Stadium celebrated the feast of Christ the King and came on the final day of the three-day conference in Indianapolis.

Throughout NCYC, the youths were led through a meditation on the Apostles and Mary receiving the Holy Spirit on Pentecost, symbolized by tongues of fire that came to rest above their head. Thus, the theme for the conference was, in English, “Ablaze,” and in Spanish, “Enciende el fuego.”

Archbishop Thompson encouraged his listeners to nurture a relationship with Christ so that they could learn to recognize the voice of their shepherd and friend.

“Just as we do with family and our closest friends, we must spend quality time with Him — not just at NCYC, but every day,” Archbishop Thompson said.

Indianapolis Archbishop Charles C. Thompson celebrated the closing Mass of the National Catholic Youth Conference in Lucas Oil Stadium Nov. 20.
Photo Credit: Natalie Hoefer | The Criterion
Having an active life of faith in which Christ can reign as king in our heart throughout the rest of the year beyond NCYC is the challenge, Archbishop Thompson noted.

Annalise Loucks knows that challenge well. She is a student at a public high school in Salina, Kansas, where she said living Gospel principles is far from the norm. This was Loucks’ second NCYC conference

On the last day of the conference, not long before she’d return home, Annalise spoke of her renewed desire to “spread the word” in her school.

“There are a lot of people at my school who are scared to show their faith,” she said. “I want to open up and spread God’s word more and be unashamed.”

“I grew quite a lot in my spiritual journey,” said Sloane Janopoulos of Naples, Florida. “I didn’t know that that many people feel the same way that I do.”

The first night, the singer Lecrae encouraged the young people in the middle of his concert.

“I just wanted to say something to all you,” the Grammy Award-winning singer said as the raucous crowd went silent. “God wants to use you in this stage of your life now. There is a zeal inside you. Use that passion to change the world for the Lord. Go crazy for the Lord now, and go crazy for Him for the rest of your life.”

The first evening’s keynote speaker — Chika Anyanwu — continued that theme in her presentation.

She shared her own story of saying “yes” to the promptings of the Holy Spirit — even though it took her away from everyone and everything she loved.

Anyanwu told the youths that it all comes down to one question, a question that seemed to inspire nearly every aspect of this year’s National Catholic Youth Conference: “Are you ready to be transformed by the Holy Spirit?”

“The Lord has not given you a spirit of fear, a spirit of timidity. The Holy Spirit has given you a spirit of courage.”

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