Groups pumped up for NCYC

Youths from St. Thomas More Parish in Coralville host a Mardi Gras celebration as a fundraiser to attend the National Catholic Youth Conference.

By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger

Youths throughout the Diocese of Davenport are getting pumped up for the bi-annual National Catholic Youth Conference (NCYC) in Indianapolis this November. Groups continue fundraising to help offset costs for transportation, housing and food. Barb Butterworth, who handles diocesan logistics for NCYC, said 415 youths, chaperones, diocesan staff and Bishop Thomas Zinkula plan to attend.

Trevor Pullinger, diocesan director of faith formation and catechesis coordinator, said NCYC has helped him grow in his faith. In his previous roles in parishes, he has led groups to NCYC since 2012. “Each year my group doubled in size,” he said, before the COVID-19 pandemic struck.

“I always enjoyed going as a youth minister because I was privileged to lead my group on a pilgrimage experience. I never cultivated a transactional view of the event of, ‘What are we getting out of it?’ but more so leaned into building a positive relationship with the parents and teens. Much of discipleship is about friendship, and indeed it begins with that,” he said. “It was a great way just to be present and experience something incredible together.”


While “NCYC simply is a great pilgrimage experience for high school youth,” Pullinger said it is “only as good as the spiritual, relational and catechetical baseline set prior to the experience. But I think it’s true to say that as long as young people find value in NCYC as a place of encounter with Christ and the larger Church, it will continue to be important.”

“NCYC is a great way to help youths see a bigger picture of the Church and ways they can grow spiritually in their faith with the incredible presentations,” said Michelle Montgomery, youth minister for St. Thomas More Parish in Coralville. NCYC can be “a life-changing experience for youths to help them stay grounded in the faith life and grow together with their peers.”

This year, she is taking a group of 25 to NCYC and looks forward to seeing musicians Steven Angrisano and Jesse Manibusan, speakers Katie Prejean, Mike Patin, Chris Padgett, Sister Miriam James Heidland and Chris Stefanick. “King and Country will put on a concert that will be a huge draw.”

The biggest fundraiser to help with costs was the Coralville parish’s annual Mardi Gras event. “This gets the whole parish involved,” Montgomery said. The event featured a raffle, gift baskets, carnival games, parade and breakfast, among other things. “Many jesters roam the tables, which helped the parish meet some of the youths attending NCYC. It was an amazing and fun time for everyone.”

At Holy Family Parish-Riverside, youths made more than 575 pans of lasagna to raise money to attend NCYC. Youth minister Angie Goodwin and Katie Schneider worked with youths from Holy Family Parish in Riverside, Richmond and Wellman along with St. James Parish in Washington to make the lasagna.

Schneider said parishioner Heather Stumpf did this fundraiser several years ago. “She had a spreadsheet that told us exactly what we’d need for each ingredient based on the number of each size ordered.” The group worked with local businesses to keep costs down and help store ingredients.

About 40 youths and a dozen adults made the lasagna in the St. Mary church basement. “While not all of the final numbers are in yet, between both parishes, we should make about $8,000 to go towards our trip,” Schneider said.

Goodwin added, “The fundraiser was a ton of work, but it was so rewarding. The fellowship and fun was so worth it! It was a great experience to prepare for our NCYC trip to Indy and to be fully alive in the Spirit.”

Sharon Crall, pastoral associate for St. Mary Parish in Albia, said her parish’s group of 13 youths and seven chaperones includes a student and chaperone from St. Mary of the Visitation Parish in

Youths from Holy Family Parish-Riverside and St. James Parish-Washington prepare trays of lasagna to raise money to attend the National Catholic Youth Conference.


Although she is not attending this year’s event, Crall said she has enjoyed “hearing the nationally known motivational speakers and attending great workshops. I like to watch the students we take celebrate their Catholic faith with thousands of other people.”

NCYC is “a celebration of being Catholic, an opportunity of the magnitude that can’t be provided to the youths in the parish or diocesan setting. It is good for them to have a concentrated but fun-filled weekend of everything Catholic,” Crall said. “My hope is always that they return with a newfound appreciation of their faith and through their leadership and enthusiasm help others grow in their faith.” The Albia parish held a Luck of the Irish raffle recently and youths have sold quarts of soup to help reduce trip expenses.

High school junior Brianna Wolfer of St. Mary Parish-Albia attended NCYC in 2021. She plans to attend this year because of her great experience. “I really felt that I have grown a lot in my faith by attending this trip. A great memory that really stuck with me was when we were at adoration. I have never felt closer to God than I did at that moment. Something changed inside of me that day, and I will never forget it. That is a big reason why I want to go back to NCYC. I want to experience that feeling of being so close to God again.”

She appreciates seeing so many Catholic youths at NCYC. “Everyone brings objects to trade with other people — this could be a pencil, bracelets or the most common (item), a hat…. I show pigs and I love pigs. So when I saw a church group at NCYC that had these adorable pig bucket hats, I was determined to get one. I walked up to lots of people with pig hats to try to trade with them. This helped me to begin to socialize with other Catholic youth.”

To date, Ss. Mary & Mathias Parish in Muscatine plans to send a group of 19 youths and seven chaperones to NCYC. “NCYC is a soul-searching journey for our youths to experience their spiritual life,” said Sister Cheryl Demmer, director of religious education. She and Pat Phillips will lead the group.

They plan to do fundraising to assist with costs.

“We are excited to join and share this opportunity with an awesome group of youths and adults that look forward to experiencing God with other Catholic youths/adults,” Sister Demmer said. “God is good, all the time. All the time, God is good,” she and Phillips said.

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