CSJs Represented at Natl Catholic Youth Conference

Here they were, Lord! All 24,000 of them!
From November 19-21, more than 24,000 participants came together at Lucas Oil Stadium for the National Catholic Youth Conference in Indianapolis. This year’s theme was “Here I Am Lord/Aquí Estoy Señor,” exploring the focus of responding to God's call. 
Sponsored by the National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry, the conference is a powerful, biennial, three-day experience of prayer, community, and empowerment for Catholic teenagers (of high school age) and their adult chaperones. 
Nearly 20 percent of National Religious Vocations Conference religious institutes participated as exhibitors, mentors, and vocation team members, including the Sisters of St. Joseph. Vocations Minister Linda Markway was in attendance. 
The program includes keynotes, prayer, workshops, Mass, and opportunities to participate in reconciliation and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, as well as recreational activities, concerts, exhibits and a thematic park which is a blend of traditional exhibit booths with interactive areas featuring service projects, games, recreation, live musical performances, arts, and sports.
Some of the best connections came from the informal interactions, such as the group that formed by Sister Linda, whose booth was in the Inspiration Nook, located next to the confessional line. 
“There was representation there from every state,” she says. “As people came up from Omaha, Baltimore, Washington D.C. and New Mexico, they just started asking each other about their experiences. It was a real community forming without any facilitation required!”
According to the National Religious Vocation Conference, 42 percent of those who professed final vows in 2014 participated in youth ministry prior to entering religious life. Sister Linda sees how that initial and ongoing connection makes all the difference, and opportunities like this conference open those doorways. 
“I spent 1.5 hours in conversation with two young women from Cincinnati, and they have already emailed me. I am connecting with someone to go to their high school already,” Sister Linda says. “What they are really looking for is somebody willing to answer questions and they had excellent ones."
Conversations and questions are valuable, but it’s the great energy of the people and the Holy Spirit that comes alive in vocations, in the Church and in the lives of the youth. 
Sister Linda says. “The young people are proud to be Catholic, they want to have a relationship with God, and they want to serve God in any way, shape or form. It gives me so much hope for the future of the church.” 
11/24/15

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