AYC aims to transform youth in faith, holiness

April 11, 2017

One of the premier faith-based events that occurs each year in our local Church is the Archdiocesan Youth Conference (AYC), gathering between 2,800 and 3,000 high-school youth and the adults that minister to them in our parishes and schools.

The event is set for July 28 to 30 at the George R. Brown Convention Center and Hilton Americas Hotel. Registration is already underway through archgh.cvent.com/AYC2017.

This year’s AYC, entitled “Holiness,” inspired by 2 Timothy 1:9, is aimed towards providing an opportunity for teens to deepen their faith in their desire to live holy lives within the family, the faith community and the larger community. This year, an exciting expansion has been created for youth’s preconference preparation at their parishes.
All parish and Catholic high school leaders bringing youth to AYC are provided with a packet of preparation materials for the conference.

These will be events or nights that can be offered at the parish to begin praying and sharing time together to ‘activate, engage and explore’ ways to be open toward Christ’s work in their lives.

This AYC expansion packet was created to build excitement toward learning how the Holy Spirit is working in their lives. These pre-conference parish nights will prepare a fertile dwelling for the many seeds planted at conference to stimulate a youthful faith toward development and growth.

Youth will celebrate spiritual healing through the Sacrament of Reconciliation and participate in the celebration of the Mass, the source and summit of our faith on Saturday and Sunday mornings. On Saturday evening, participants will adore Christ in the Most Holy Sacrament through exposition and benediction.

The desired outcome of all of participation in these Sacraments and sacramentals is for the youth to encounter and fall in love with Christ and know the presence of Christ within them; to know Holiness.

The keynote speakers, Paul J. Kim, Kris Frank, Oscar Rivera and Katie Prejean-McGrady will break open the sub-themes: Called to Be Holy; Examples of Holiness; Grace and Holiness; and, God’s Plan for Your Holiness.

These themes will be further enlightened through the prayer and liturgical experiences, through community building and through formative sessions that help youth to seek God in all lived experiences and living things. It is expected that youth will not only be informed but experience transformation in their lives as they grow to know and experience more of Christ in their lives.

One of the many things that makes AYC unique is it has a Marian theme woven throughout the weekend. Each year participants spend time in prayer and reflection in understanding the evangelical role of Mother Mary throughout history. This year we will focus on Our Lady of Lourdes.

As we continue to provide great experiences for youth, it’s important to remember the role of the primary catechist of children and youth, the parents. A packet has been prepared for the parents of the youth attending. This package will provide parents with tips on how to engage their son or daughter to share their faith. This will help the youth articulate what they know Holiness to mean in their lives. Parents will also get tips on discussing faith through contemporary moral issues, praying together, serving others and being models of God’s compassion and mercy.

Finally, AYC will livestream the general sessions and keynote speakers in order for parents to hear the message their youth are reflecting upon. It is always a primary goal of youth ministry to help parents walk with their children on their journey of faith.

At the conclusion of the conference, when the youth are sent forth, we pray all youth will rise and increase in their quest toward Holiness: to better know, love and serve Christ.
He saved us and called us to a holy life, not according to our works but according to his own design and the grace bestowed on us in Christ Jesus before time began.

For more information call the Office of Adolescent Catechesis and Evangelization at 713-741-8723, or visit www.archgh.org/oace/ayc. †

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