Wednesday, November 25, 2015
What an INCREDIBLE, AWESOME, AMAZING, LIFE-CHANGING experience!
First let me say that this is one of the best groups of young people I have ever taken on a trip. They were completely engaged from the moment we boarded the buses. They were also polite to everyone along the way, kind to each and were totally respectful of our adult chaperones. I am SO proud of this group!
All the keynote speakers were amazing. We learned that being a priest can be VERY cool from Fr. Leo Padalinghug. We heard just how important it is to pray to our Mother Mary from Chris Padgett. We heard about the importance of prayer from Mark Hart and then spent time in front the blessed sacrament while experiencing some awesome music by Matt Maher. 24,000 people sitting in complete silence focusing on Jesus is powerful and an experience that most of the group would say was the highlight of the trip. We learned about Catholic Relief Services from Dr. Carolyn Woo. Then we celebrated mass with 24,000 of our closest friends and watched hundreds of priests come in as part of the procession.
We also traded hats, foam fingers, and clothespins.
We laughed so much.
I am working on putting together a video about our experience. Once it is done, I will make sure it is posted for all to see. It will also be posted on parish social media and websites.
Now we try and keep this NCYC mountaintop experience alive. How do we do this?
One way is to go to mass. Make sure you attend mass as a family each week. Even if the music isn't always perfect, or the readings don't really apply to you that day, go and be with God. He wants to talk to you!
Make meal time important. Gather as a family around the table and make sure you begin with prayer.
Encourage your kids to attend youth ministry events. I am offering Bible Study on Wednesday nights at 6:00pm during December. And we will be meeting on Sundays from 6-8 to reflect on the readings and prayers for the season of Advent.
These are just a few ideas. My goal is to also have NCYC "reunions" once a month starting in January. These will be simple events, like movie nights, that will begin with some prayer and reflection. It will be a chance to remember that we all shared something special in Indianapolis and that we need to keep that NCYC flame alive in our hearts so we can share it with our family, school and parish.
Thank you for trusting me to lead the group on this journey. I am humbled by your faith.
Time to get to work!
HERE I AM, LORD.
Saturday, November 21, 2015
So much to say but it's late and we are all tired and filled with joy and many emotions.
I'll need to spend some time on our ride home formulating my thoughts to share with you.
I will tell you these few things;
This group if students is incredible! It has been wonderful getting to know them better. I love them all.
We laughed. A LOT.
We cried, too. Tears of joy. Tears from hurt. Some were from emotions they had never felt before. But emotions are good! They matter.
We bonded in small groups.
Our chaperones are simply AMAZING!
Mass was beautiful.
Your kids will be different when they come home.
I promise to share more tomorrow.
Pray for our safe return home.
Monday is when the real work begins.
Friday, November 20, 2015
Friday is in the books and it was an AMAZING day!
We started with our general session and keynote speaker Chris Padget. Chris is hilarious and made all of us laugh - A LOT. But he also talked about his own relationship with our Blessed Mother Mary and how she has been a source of comfort and strength for his family.
Then it was down the block to the Convention Center. Wow! So many people, so many workshop choices! It takes some time to get your bearings as the convention center is pretty big. But thanks to our awesome adult chaperones, the kids found where they were going. Today there were 3 rounds of workshops. Many of students attended a session titled "Love or Lust" by Jason and Crystallina Everet. This married couple talks about chastity and the importance of knowing your self worth, especially when it comes to relationships. All who attended said it really made them think about love and how important it is to give love to the RIGHT person.
Some kids went to listen to Jesse Manibusan. Others to listen to John Angotti. Many spent time in the interactive village doing activities and trading with other kids and checking out all the catholic vendors. There are so many workshops to choose from, and it's 1:01am and I honestly can't remember where all the kids went. Ha!
Tonight was one of the most powerful experiences I have ever had. XLT is praise and worship music, a witness talk and adoration. Catholic musician Matt Maher got us into a prayerful state thru music. Then speaker Mark Hart talked to us about the importance of fostering a relationship with Jesus and how God loved us SO much that he have up His son for us and now God is patiently waiting for us.
Then the blessed sacrament was brought in and exposed. The silence of 24,000 teens was powerful and emotional. Many of our kids were literally moved to tears during this silence in the presence of Jesus. Words cannot describe the feeling but I know it's something the kids will carry home with them.
I was so proud of our group today! Always smiling, even though I know they were tired. Always polite. Always making sure they are checking in with their chaperones. This is an exceptional group of young people!! I am so blessed to know them.
Tomorrow is our last day. We are looking forward to the closing mass which is always the highlight of this journey.
Until then, keep on praying for us!!!
After 8 hours on buses. Several pit stops. And a somewhat chaotic hour of sorting hotel keys and name badges, we were ready for NCYC 2015.
Words could never accurately describe what it feels like walking into Lucas Oil Stadium and NCYC for the first time. The music was LOUD. The floor was SHAKING. The energy was ELECTRIC.
My friend DJ Bill Lage got the crowd pumped up and then one of my favorite Christian bands, For King and Country performed. 25,000 teens and their adult chaperones danced and sang and praised the lord. My favorite moment was when one of first time NCYC kids said to me, "I had no idea it would like this! This is awesome!"
GOD IS GOOD!
The emcees, Paul J. Kim and Jackie Francois Angel were funny and sweet. Paul Kim can sure drop a sick beat! He's a beatboxer - which is so cool. And Jackie, even though she's 6 months pregnant, is a fabulous dancer who does a mean moonwalk.
Our keynote speaker, Fr. Leo, showed us how to stand up to temptations and that every day we are fighting a battle for our faith. What a treat to see a young, cool priest with lots of energy who also break dances and breaks boards (he did some sweet martial arts moves).
The evening ended back at the hotel with pizza and small group time. Kids were in their rooms at midnight.
Friday we hit the ground running at 7:30am!! This is where the real work begins.
As always, pray for us!
Thursday, November 19, 2015
We are on the road!
My group is the best. All were on time, which allowed us to leave on time! It takes roughly 8 hours to get to Indianapolis. We are scheduled to arrive around 3:30pm Eastern time.
We are travelling in a caravan of 3 buses. One full bus with our group. One bus that's half our group, the other half from Calmar. The Calmar group seems like a lot of fun! The 3rd bus is Jesup and another group.
Thanks to Fr. Bob Gross from Calmar who is travelling with their group for blessing us before we hit the road!
Right now, things are quiet on Bus 14 (our full bus). Lots of sleeping kids (and adults!)
I will try to update the blog a few times each day, but sometimes my phone doesn't cooperate.
We ask that you pray for our group. We'll return the favor and pray for you!
Thursday, November 12, 2015
We had our final meeting on Monday night and the excitement is starting to build.
The biggest part of NCYC is recruiting adult chaperones. These are the people who walk this journey with the youth from our parishes. They are the ones who will make sure everyone is safe and has a good time.
Our chaperones are:
Shannon Beyrle, Jordan Sadecki, Annette Staples, Cindy Weber, Stacie Mills, Brenda Harrison, Francie Luke, Kathy Joblinske, Dr. Bob Pranger, Bob Nemmers, Deacon Ray Larsen, James Larsen & Chris Evans.
Please make sure you thank them if you run into them around town.
Here are some pictures of trade items and hats!
Hats & trade items
If you want to stay up to date with all our NCYC adventures, follow this blog! Also - you are invited to attend an NCYC "Watch Party" on Thursday, Nov. 19th.
Until next time, I ask that you keep us in your prayers. NCYC can be a powerful experience for teens and my hope is it will bring them closer to Christ and help them understand the power of the church!