COLBERT: AYC - Gift received, gift shared

March 28, 2023

(Herald file photo)

A common sentiment nowadays is that we cannot return to pre-pandemic ministry. We need to start afresh. Pope Francis, in his message for the 36th World Youth Day — confirms this sentiment regarding the young Church: “…we cannot begin anew without you, dear young people. If our world is to arise, it needs your strength, your enthusiasm, your passion.”

I am truly eager about the upcoming 67th Archdiocesan Youth Conference (AYC), where the youth of the Archdiocese will be invited to meet this challenge of renewal. We will celebrate the gift that young people are to the Catholic Church. We will listen to their voices and challenge them to live an authentic and deep Catholic faith.

AYC’s theme for 2023 is “Gift Received, Gift Shared.” It comes from the Bible verse 1 Peter 4:10: “As each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of God’s varied grace.”

On July 28 to 30, we will gather more than 1,000 young people to break open the theme of giftedness, service and stewardship with our vibrant keynote speakers. Paul J. Kim, also our emcee for the weekend, will utilize his many God-given talents to communicate the Gospel message in an entertaining and meaningful way.

Father Casey Cole, OFM, is not only a religious priest but also an author, baseball enthusiast, and social media influencer. He will break open the message of service in a relatable and understandable manner. Meg Hunter-Kilmer is an itinerant missionary who travels and lives out of her car! She is an alum of Notre Dame, an author, and a gifted storyteller of holy men and women, particularly the saints.

Infused throughout this three-day youth conference are opportunities for a ton of fun, building new friendships, and experiencing prayer with the body of Christ. Most of all, there will be time to receive healing in the Sacrament of Reconciliation and moments of silence in front of the Most Blessed Sacrament.

The conclusion of our time together will be the celebration of the Eucharist, the source and summit of our Christian life (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1324). As is tradition, Daniel Cardinal DiNardo will be our main celebrant and homilist for Sunday Mass.

The Office of Adolescent Catechesis and Evangelization challenges each of you to encourage and invite the young people in your lives — graduating eighth graders through graduating seniors — to contact their local parishes to join us in this unique and dynamic celebration of our Catholic faith.

Participants will leave the experience of AYC 2023 equipped and inspired to joyfully respond to this challenge of Pope Francis: The Lord, the Church and the Pope trust you and appoint you to bear witness before all those other young people whom you will encounter on today’s “roads to Damascus.” Never forget that “anyone who has truly experienced God’s saving love does not need much time or lengthy training to go out and proclaim that love. Every Christian is a missionary to the extent that he or she has encountered the love of God in Christ Jesus” (Evangelii Gaudium, 120). 

Timothy E. Colbert is the director of the Office of Adolescent Catechesis and Evangelization.