by PATRICK J. BUECHI
Mon, Jan 21st 2019 10:00 am
Youth Board member Ryleigh Myers reports on the ways the convention main stage sessions will help teens power up.
(Courtesy of The Department of Youth and Young Adult Ministry)
Christmas is over. Lent has not yet begun. How does a spirit-filled teen keep the faith in this middling time? The annual diocesan Youth Convention offers teens an opportunity to Power Up their faith over a three-day weekend filled with good talks, prayer and nearly a thousand new friends.
The 67th convention will be held March 1-3 at the Buffalo Grand Hotel (formerly the Adam's Mark) in downtown Buffalo. Many teens have found the convention to be a critical step in their faith journey. They experience support and guidance for living their Catholic faith. It can also be a reminder that they are not alone in their searching, questioning and appreciation of Jesus Christ.
This year's keynote presenter will be Robert Feduccia, who began his career in ministry right after high school, joining the National Evangelization Team, a retreat ministry for high school and middle school students. He began "One Bread, One Cup," a youth liturgical leadership program at St. Meinrad College Seminary that has continued to run for the past 18 years. Feduccia has also served as a development editor for St. Mary's Press and as general manager for Spirit & Song, the contemporary music division of Oregon Catholic Press. During these years, his national reputation as a speaker, retreat leader and writer began to grow.
Feduccia works in close partnership with Doug Tooke and Frank Mercadante, who have spoken at the convention the previous two years. "So, we really think he is the natural next step to understand our vision to power up," explained Michael Slish, program coordinator, for the diocesan Department of Youth & Young Adult Ministry, which hosts the convention.
The theme of "Power Up" came from the Youth Board, the team of 12 teens who plan the convention.
"Filling up your batteries is the analogy we're using and growing closer to God by powering up in your faith and growing stronger in your faith in your day to day life," said Carter Neumann, a board member.
The convention will follow the familiar format of large and small group talks, prayer sessions and liturgy. An expo, which runs throughout the weekend, features fun games along with service opportunities.
Details were still being finalized just before Christmas. The Youth Board wants to make sure small-group breakout sessions are relatable to teens.
"We've been discussing what themes and topics we could choose that would specifically relate to teens," explained Rebecca Young. "What we had been talking about is there is always a lot of stress and anxiety about school, so we're mainly focusing on our social lives, and stress and all the pressures of school and kind of leaving faith out of our lives. So, how to fit God in and still have a close connection to Him in all the daily bustle."
Through the breakouts, liturgies and mainstage presentations, the teens want to have the crowd, which usually reaches 800, to become involved, as they should with their faith, rather than just be an observer.
"The biggest thing we're focusing on is trying to separate the barrier between the stage and the crowd," said Neumann. "A few things we mentioned were crowd games, where we might have a game on the big screen where everyone in the crowd is participating simultaneously with a few select people up on the stage. That way they're involved over the entire weekend instead of standing by idly watching what is going on."
Daniel Schiffhauer, who attended last year, is excited to participate for a second time. "I'm really excited to go back and just experience everything again. It was such an experience for me. I absolutely loved every second of it last year. With the board we have, I think we can make it even better this year," he said.
Attending the convention allows teens who wish to explore their faith in a safe place among people just like themselves, who will answer their questions and share their thoughts, rather than criticize or judge them.
"Teens want to be closer to God, they want to be closer to each other and sometimes they need permission to do that. They need an area that is already the theme and they are already expecting that to be the case. Once they have a room full of other like-minded people, then they can grow and experience the faith more fully," said Neumann.
It also shows new ways to celebrate the faith.
"Instead of just seeing it as the ritualistic Church - going to Mass with your parents or your family, I think it's a way to find your own take on your religion, and really find yourself in your faith alongside your friends," said Young.
For more information, a short video and registration forms visit at www.dobyouth.org.