COLBERT: Calling youth to seek the truth of Christ in AYC 2021

March 23, 2021

Herald file photo


In the fourth chapter of Christus Vivit (Christ is Alive), the Holy Father, Pope Francis, identifies three great truths that each of us need to be constantly reminded of:

1. God loves you, 2. Christ saves you and 3. Christ is alive!

As we walk with the young Church at this year’s Archdiocesan Youth Conference, we will continually return to these three great truths. It is with this knowledge that young people can ultimately know that the one place to seek and find the truth is in Christ and His Holy Church.

Each year for 64 years, the Office of Adolescent Catechesis and Evangelization has gathered young people to share with them the truth to be found in a relationship with Jesus the Christ. This year will present some challenges with the pandemic, but be assured we are working closely with Hilton Americas-Houston and our Risk Management Office to ensure a safe conference experience. Contact tcolbert@archgh.org for a detailed list of the protocols in place for this gathering.

Our theme this year, “Seek the Truth,” comes from the Gospel of St. John, where Jesus says to Pontius Pilate, “For this I was born and for this I came into this world, to testify to the truth,” to which Pilate responds, “What is truth?”

From July 30 to Aug. 1, we will gather over 2,500 young people for the 65th annual youth conference to break open this theme with our dynamic keynote and workshop speakers. There, we will celebrate the gift they are to the Church, listen to their voices and challenge them to live a dynamic Catholic faith. We will explore five main themes at the conference.

Joel Stepanek, director of resource development for Life Teen, will begin our program by exploring the variety of arenas in which young people seek the truth. What can we learn from influencers, social media, celebrities? Is their truth our truth?

Cynthia Psencik, director of the Office of Youth Ministry for the Archdiocese of New York, will unpack our foundational Scripture for the weekend. Psencik will examine what it means to seek the truth.

Father Ekenedilichukwu “Jude” Ezuma, pastor of Holy Family in Galveston, will show participants Catholic Social Teaching is a key source of truth that calls us to action.
Finally, Father Agustino Torres, C.F.R., a New York-based priest who works extensively in youth ministry, will conclude our gathering by sending the young Church forth to live the truth as lifelong disciples of Jesus Christ. In addition, Father Torres will serve as our emcee for the weekend.

Infused throughout this three-day conference are opportunities for fun, building new relationships, prayer, adoration and confession. The fifth theme of the conference is “Finding Truth in Christ through prayer and worship.” The conclusion of our time together will be the celebration of the Eucharist, the source and summit of our faith. As is tradition, Daniel Cardinal DiNardo will be our celebrant and homilist.

The Office of Adolescent Catechesis and Evangelization challenges each of you to encourage the young people you know, graduating eighth graders through graduating seniors, to contact their local parish to join us in this unique and dynamic celebration of our faith.

Let me conclude with these inspiring words from Pope Francis. He concludes Christus Vivit in this way: “Dear young people, my joyful hope is to see you keep running the race before you, outstripping all those who are slow or fearful. Keep running, ‘attracted by the face of Christ, whom we love so much, whom we adore in the Holy Eucharist and acknowledge in the flesh of our suffering brothers and sisters. May the Holy Spirit urge you on as you run this race. The Church needs your momentum, your intuitions, your faith. We need them! And when you arrive where we have not yet reached, have the patience to wait for us.’” †

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