NCYC 2021: in person, or online?

Catholic youths from Ottumwa pose for a photo at the National Catholic Youth Conference in Indianapolis in 2019.

By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger

Youth ministers and parish staff attended an informational session March 1 on the options for youths in the Diocese of Davenport to attend the National Catholic Youth Conference (NCYC) Nov. 18-20 in Indianapolis. Don Boucher, coordinator of youth and young adult ministry, led the session with support from Barb Butterworth, administrative assistant in faith formation.

Boucher said NCYC is offering a limited in-person option and two virtual options. This year’s theme is “Ablaze.” On April 7, diocesan staff received permission to continue with plans to assist parishes with plans for either option for NCYC and for diocesan staff members to attend in-person.

The arrival of COVID-19 vaccines is a hopeful sign, Boucher said. However, vaccination is not required to attend because of age restrictions to receive the vaccine.


In 2019, about 25,000 youths and adults attended NCYC in Indianapolis. This year, NCYC will allow 10,000 in-person attendees. Tickets are nonrefundable but transferable if a group decides not to attend. Tickets are $225 to $275 per person for the conference only — not including transportation, lodging or food.

Two virtual options are available for youths and chaperones — a $25 per person, view-only option of the general sessions (most breakout sessions will not be shown) and a $75 per person option that allows youths to interact and to attend general session and breakouts. The $75 option includes a kit mailed out by October. Free livestream will not be offered this year.

Tickets go on sale May 1, so youth ministers need to assess interest among youths and parents for the in-person and online options, Boucher said. Online tickets might be unlimited as the center boosts internet capability. Online option costs will not increase as the event date approaches. Boucher believes NCYC 2021 will be a quality event as it has been in the past. “They will do their best to make this as safe as possible.”

Diocesan organizers had to coordinate tickets, hotels, transportation, a diocesan T-shirt, hotel breakfast and other details to determine the in-person cost, which has been set, Boucher said. From May 1 to July 31, total cost is $597 per person staying in a quad room, $638 for a triple, $720 for a double and $1,048 for a single. Hotel costs have increased quite a bit compared to two years ago. Final pricing will be announced once the diocesan delegation size is determined and hotel assignment is given, Boucher noted.

Attendees pay for their own meals, trading items, parish T-shirts, tips, Saturday Mass collection and any other costs.

Boucher emphasized that if a parish buys a ticket, it is nonrefundable. It is transferable to another youth, chaperone or another parish. “I’d love to be more flexible, but I can’t due to time constraints,” Boucher told the group online. “We will do everything possible to work with you. Please be firm with your numbers,” Butterworth said.

May 1 may be the only day tickets are available for in-person attendance. One minister asked about help for the virtual option. Information will be forthcoming, including links prior to the event, Boucher said. Several parish leaders expressed concern about going in-person if diocesan staff support was not available. However, diocesan staff will participate.

Questions arose about hotel accommodations. Boucher said it is up to parents and youth ministers at each parish to decide how many people share a room. If a parish comes up short for a quad room, it could work with another parish to fill that spot. If a quad room has just two youths, “you will be charged the double rate.”

Boucher promised to keep parishes informed about diocesan support for NCYC. “Thank you. And for the next few months, pray.”

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