Youths share highlights of NCYC

Members of St. Mary Parish in Oskaloosa gathered Nov. 22 for a general session at the National Catholic Youth Conference in Indianapolis, Ind. Front, from left, are Morgan Holle, Alex Koenig, Hannah Hirl, Paige VanMersbergen, Libby VanMersbergen, Elizabeth Moore, Janine Moore, Nick Schaffner, Cassie Nimtz and Morgan Reddy; back: Tony Nimtz, Collin Lowry, Jack Sytsma, Lauren Gorski, Taryn Shaw and Jeb Shaw.

Rebecca Lyons, Jesus Christ, Prince of Peace Parish, Clinton:
NCYC was like a diocesan youth rally on steroids! It was a very sensory experience. I could feel “faith energy” burning inside Lucas Oil Stadium the entire time. The beauty of our religion couldn’t be ignored when I looked into the passionate faces of the youth from all across the country. My ears were filled with inspirational music and stories delivered by fantastic speakers and artists. Receiving the Eucharist in the presence of thousands of people gave me a taste of what it must have been like when Jesus multiplied the loaves and fishes for the crowd of believers. I absolutely loved NCYC, and would strongly recommend it for any young Catholic.
Morgan Berry, Jesus Christ, Prince of Peace Parish, Clinton:
I felt God telling me I am the light of the world, like he put me at NCYC to spread the good news and to talk to my fellow Catholics, and that’s exactly what I did.
If our society was like NCYC, people wouldn’t be hurting one another, and bullying wouldn’t even exist. People who self-harm or are depressed would see that they’re loved and were molded into God’s image.
I carried a memorial item that has to do with my grandfather, who passed away in June. I wanted him to see NCYC, so I brought it with me. My mom went to a breakout session, and as she was walking, she was praying about her family. Nobody was next to her, but she saw three shadows. She thought they were Jesus, her father and her brother who had passed away 11 years ago due to suicide. Her story impacted me; I knew my grandpa was with us and watching over us at NCYC.
Trevor Pullinger, director of faith formation and youth ministry, Church of All Saints, Keokuk (http://keokukallsaintsfaithformation.weebly. com/blog.html):
The biggest highlight of the day was holy Mass! The experience was indescribable. It reminded me of a painting of the beatific vision. One in which there being offered in Mass Christ himself as a meeting place between heaven and earth among an endless throng of thousands, a sea of people praising and glorifying God. This holy Mass was certainly a meeting place between heaven and earth just due to the sheer volume of energy and excitement, but also the number of souls engaged in worship. It really was an experience without words; all I can say is please come to the next NCYC and you will know what I mean first hand.
Amber Erickson, St. Thomas More Parish, Coralville:
Even though I was in line for what  seems like a very long time, confessing my sins was one of my WOW moments because it just made me feel so much better. I came to the realization of all of the sins that are possible and how you can grow by releasing all that binds you up. Also, the woman speaker Friday night, Jackie Angel, really touched me to become closer to the Holy Spirit.
Madeline Deninger, St. Thomas More Parish, Coralville:
My wow moment was when we received Communion at Mass on Saturday night. Seeing everyone in the entire stadium taking part in that together really made me feel like a part of something bigger than myself. It was something I will never ever forget.
Alex Gudenkauf, St. Thomas More Parish, Coralville:
Reconciliation was a WOW moment. The priest really helped explain things and helped me become a better man.
Alex Hanson, St. Thomas More Parish, Coralville:
The biggest thing that stood out to me was Saturday night at the Mass. It was amazing to see hundreds of youth who are my age singing and participating in the Mass and also throughout the weekend. I really liked the breakout sessions; they were really encouraging in helping me to increase my faith in God. Overall I had a fun time meeting people who are the same age, and believe in the faith as I do. I am thankful that I attended and can’t wait to go again.
Tom Rhomberg, St. Pat­rick Parish, Iowa City:
I really enjoyed all the performances. All of the songs were really fun to dance to and sing along with. Ansel Augustine’s talk about how he is doing was really encouraging. I know I will never give up when something bad happens because of what I learned from him.
Hannah Yowell, St. Patrick Parish, Iowa City:
One of my favorite moments of this weekend was during the opening ceremony when Olivia Gillitzer went down to the stage and we were screaming and singing at the top of our lungs. This was a special moment for me because I have never been surrounded by so many people who are that fired up with their faith. I didn’t know what NCYC was all about until I got there, but this gave me an awesome idea of what I had in store for the next few days!
McKenzie Musser, St. Mary Parish, Oxford:
I had an even greater  time during this year’s trip. I listened to some great speakers, like Mike Patin. I also tried something new by going to a chastity session. I liked knowing where I was going. Again, it was a blast!
Logan Davis, St. Mary Parish, Oxford:
Once again, NCYC wasn’t a disappointment. You really feed off the energy of other youths and the keynote speakers. The camaraderie and inspiration will not soon be forgotten.

From left, Joseph Corvaia, Bishop Martin Amos, Matt Maher and Jacob Boeck take a break from the National Catholic Youth Conference in Indiana. The three youths are from All Saints Parish in Keokuk.

Ben Szot, St. Peter Parish, Cosgrove:
This week I feel I became closer to God than ever before. All the keynote speakers were really good and the workshops were really good.
Lauren Helle, St. Peter Parish, Cosgrove:
This had to have been one of the most amazing experiences in my life. I made many new friends and they are all wonderful people. Thank you for this overpowering, amazing trip.
Alyssa Goldermann, Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, Bettendorf:
This was my first time going to NCYC, and I had no idea what to expect. I have heard nothing but amazing things about this trip. NCYC has changed my life in many ways. I not only became closer to God, but I met many other teens who felt the same way about God that I did! I wish I could go every year.
Bridget Schnell, Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, Bettendorf:
This trip really helped get me in touch with God and realize that He is always there.  I would love to do this again because I loved seeing all these teenagers together to worship God.
Lauren Carroll, Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, Bettendorf:
At NCYC I learned how to pray and had a truly life changing experience. I met people and became closer in one weekend then I ever thought I would’ve. God is great, and is my #1 fan!
Sydney Richard, Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, Bettendorf:
This trip really made me realize how important Church is and how cool it is. I cannot wait to come in two years and experience this again.
Emma Whitty, Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, Bettendorf:
NCYC has changed my life.  I had no idea what to expect or what I was getting myself into.  I talked to many people who had previously attended and they said it would be an unforgettable experience; they were so right.  I have met so many new friends, became closer with my current friends, but most importantly I have strengthened my faith with God and learned more about myself. It was comforting to know that there were over 20,000 teenagers there, all my age, going through the same things as me, and sharing the same faith. This trip has honestly changed my life, and my friendship with God has skipped to an entire new level!

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