Archdiocesan Youth Conference: Unseen love

April 16, 2013

In the English language, we use the word “love” in many ways and on many occasions: I love you, darling! I love pizza. I love my i-Pad. I love my dog. I love those flowers. I love to party. I love that movie. I love that song. I love you no matter what. I love you like crazy.

This summer, more than 2,400 youth and their adult leaders and chaperones will gather on a journey that exposes the epitome of true love during the 57th Archdiocesan Youth Conference, set for July 19 to 21 at the Hilton Americas Hotel in downtown Houston. AYC, as it is often referred to, is the largest gathering of young people sponsored, planned and implemented by the Office of Adolescent Catechesis and Evangelization. 

Through this event, young people are challenged to live out their faith, learn from exciting and informative presentations from outstanding national speakers and musicians, and make new friendships.

It’s a faith-filled three-day conference for high school youth designed just for the youth of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston giving them a national conference experience right here at home where participants hear the Gospel message and authentic Church teaching. 

Youth will be led in praise and worship through a phenomenal music ministry team led by local leaders Mike Smith, Kimberly Roy and nationally known musician Ben Walther. Youth will also enter into sacramental celebrations that feed the mind, body and soul.

AYC also provides youth with a unique opportunity to interact with His Eminence, Daniel Cardinal DiNardo and other church leaders from throughout the Archdiocese to pray, dialogue and reflect on the role of the young Church of Galveston-Houston.

This year’s theme “Unseen Love” selected by the Archdiocesan Youth Council is taken from St. Peter’s beautiful description of our faith: “Although you have not seen Him you love Him; even though you do not see Him now yet believe in Him, you rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, as you attain the goal of [your] faith, the salvation of your souls.” (1 Peter 1:8-9)

Throughout the weekend, the teens will break open “Unseen Love” through three subthemes: Imperishable/Enduring Love, Undefiled/Pure-hearted Love and Unfading/Covenant/Committed Love. To lead us through these days filled with singing, prayer, contemplation, worship and fun, we have gathered three of the very best presenters in the evangelization of young people the country has to offer. Jackie Francois is a premier Catholic music personality, Doug Tooke is the diocesan director of youth ministry for the Diocese of Helena in Montana and Roy Petitfils is and has been a teacher, high school campus minister, counselor and school administrator, and author who help facilitate experiences for people to enter sacred space and encounter the Lord.

As a first we would like to offer parents unable to physically join their teens at AYC to be there virtually. All three major presentations will be streamed live online as well as the closing Mass where Cardinal DiNardo will be the celebrant. The Archdiocesan website will also have a special section for parents to engage into conversation with their children prior to and after the weekend experience.

Due to the format of the program, young people must be registered to attend with a parish or Catholic high school group. In cases where a parish or school isn’t attending, interested youth are paired with a neighboring parish or school so that they don’t miss the experience. 

In Cardinal DiNardo’s letter to the priests of the Archdiocese, he mentions, “I understand that high school students have many programs and activities during the summer months. It is my hope that you, your youth and their leaders will make this Archdiocesan gathering a priority in your parish.” If your parish hasn’t advertised or plans on attending, set up a time with your youth ministry leader to see how to get the process started.
To obtain information about AYC 2013 call 713-741-8723, email or check the website at

Brian K. Johnson is the director of the Archdiocesan Office of Adolescent Catechesis and Evangelization.