11/10/2011 10:00:00 AM NCYC-BOUND Teens psyched for national conference
The T-shirt local youth will wear to NCYC was designed by Audrey Keefe of St. Thomas parish in Delmar and Bethlehem High School.
Shannon McShane, a high school senior, joined the youth group at St. Thomas the Apostle parish in Delmar to stay in touch with a friend who attended. But after she went to NCYC two years ago, Shannon's attitude toward the group changed.
"Youth ministry should be for my benefit," she explained. "I felt I had a responsibility to be a leader."
Shannon will be one of 80 teens serving as "animators" - singers, dancers and speakers - at this year's NCYC. She auditioned via video and trained in Indianapolis over the summer.
"That is just the ultimate prize for me, to know that I have an influence on 22,000 teenagers at once," Shannon said.
One highlight of her first NCYC trip was a workshop on abstinence and teen pregnancy. The presenters were a man who had waited until marriage for sex and his wife, who lost her virginity at a young age.
"It was really cool to hear their stories," Shannon said. "My boyfriend at the time was watching the same thing. It really influenced me and emphasized that I wasn't the only one" abstaining.
In addition, seeing Catholics dance made the faith "seem very believable, which I think is important for teenagers nowadays." (AC)
High school senior Allison Deutschman knows dozens of Catholic teens preparing for confirmation - but only about five of them attend Mass weekly.
One way to change that, she hopes, is by attending the National Catholic Youth Conference next week.
NCYC is a biennial, three-day experience of prayer, community and empowerment for Catholic teenagers and chaperones. This year's gathering will be held in Indianapolis, Ind.
"I really want to use this opportunity to bring things that I learn there to my church," she said of NCYC. "I'm looking forward to having a better grasp on my faith. I want to meet new people, hear new stories.
"In a small town, you get so focused on you, your beliefs, and how it affects you. [NCYC] makes it easier because I feel like there are people who understand what I'm going through."
Allison will join 197 other teens and 78 adults from the Albany Diocese at NCYC to boost her faith with more than 20,000 young Catholics from around the country. Bishop Howard J. Hubbard will attend the beginning of the conference, Nov. 17, to celebrate Mass for the diocesan group.
The conference costs between $600 and $1,000 per person. Many parishes and youth have spent the year fundraising.
Allison, who attends Mohawk High School and Herkimer County Community College, first heard of NCYC when she attended the diocesan Christian Leadership Institute (CLI) at Pyramid Life Center in Paradox.
"CLI was life-changing for me," she told The Evangelist. "I've made so many friends that I've kept in touch with more than I do with the friends from my own town." Many of them, she added, will also be attending NCYC.
Allison looks forward to hearing some of her favorite Christian bands at the conference. "It's cool because it's not your organ music," she said. "It's Christian rock; it's pop. It's more relatable."
The theme of this year's NCYC is "Called to Glory," a reference to the scriptural theme for that weekend. "They want everyone to get together and just praise Jesus," Allison said.
She'll miss two college tests while she's gone, but "it's worth it in my opinion."
Leigh Jason, a junior from St. Therese Chapel in Gansevoort, a mission of St. Clement's parish in Saratoga Springs, will room with Allison.
"I'm hoping that it's just as fun as CLI was," Leigh enthused. "I'm interested in expanding my religion. I know that it helps me through life and helps me make my decisions."
Leigh is a catechist for kindergartners at St. Therese and hopes to learn more about ministering to young children.
Matthew Lee, a junior at Stillwater High, is a sacristan at All Saints on the Hudson parish in Mechanicville/Stillwater. He moved to the area from Texas over the summer and wants to make new friends at NCYC.
He went once before, when NCYC was held in Kansas City. "It was pretty fun," he said. "It got me closer to God."
This will be the first NCYC experience for Molly Maguire, a senior from St. John the Baptist parish in Walton. She'll attend NCYC with teens from St. Peter's parish in Delhi and Holy Family Church in Downsville, a mission of St. John the Baptist.
Molly has attended the March for Life in Washington, D.C., a few times with her family and enjoyed seeing thousands of Catholics with the same values: "You see how important these things are to people."
Darryl Scott, a sophomore at Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons School in Schenectady, heard about NCYC at a music and liturgy camp at Pyramid Life Center. A member of the music ministry team at St. Clare's parish in Colonie, he said he struggles with faith and wants to "try to figure out who I am as a person.
"If there is a God, then why does bad stuff happen in the world? I never seem to find an answer to that. I want to hear other people give their thoughts on our faith."