More than 2,000 area youth gather to celebrate faith

August 20, 2013

HOUSTON — More than 2,000 high school students celebrated their faith at the 57th annual Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston's Archdiocesan Youth Conference (AYC) July 19 to 21 at the Hilton Americas Hotel in downtown Houston.

In the largest gathering of its kind, approximately 2,200 joined together to celebrate God and their faith and to experience the diversity of the Archdiocese. 

Throughout the weekend the youth were challenged to live out their faith, learn from exciting and informative presentations, make new friendships and talk about and reflect upon their role in the Church.

"It is incredibly inspiring to see so many young people excited about their faith," said Daniel Cardinal DiNardo. "The atmosphere is so alive, so vibrant. They want to learn, to be inspired and be involved. This is the face of the Church — they are excited about God, about the Church. They want to share it with the world." 

Major presenters for the weekend included Jackie Francois, Roy Petitfils and Doug Tooke. Francois is a full-time traveling speaker, singer/songwriter and worship leader from Orange County, Calif. Petitfils is a counselor, speaker and writer geared towards youth. Tooke is a Catholic evangelist from Monarch Catholic Ministries. 

"Jackie's talk was really moving," AYC attendee Sara Hayes said. "The speakers were all fabulous... and they related to the theme really well, which has been harder in the past."


Jackie Francois Keynote:

Roy Petitfils Keynote and Eucharistic Adoration:

Doug Tooke Keynote:

Friday Evening Prayer Service:

Closing Mass:

The theme this year was Unseen Love. "(It was) an opportunity for our young people to rejuvenate their faith lives, to get serious about life in Christ and His Church, and to learn the truth of the Gospel," said Brian Johnson, director of the Archdiocesan Office of Adolescent Catechesis and Evangelization.

Johnson said that the teenagers enjoy the chance to talk freely and openly about the challenges they face. 

Plus they have the opportunity to explore their role in the Church, how they can develop healthy relationships with peers, adults and parents, and they experience the reality of diverse cultures and faith expressions. 

He added that the conference is also a chance for youth to express issues of faith and how to respond to Church teachings, questions about faith, a love of Church, each other and an acceptance of diversity, actions for peace and justice in our world and an outward jubilation of joy in living as a Catholic Christian.

During the event, the teens re-enacted the birth of Jesus, the Crucifixion and Our Lady of Guadalupe's apparition to St. Juan Diego. 

Daily Mass was offered during the conference with Cardinal DiNardo presiding at the closing Mass on Sunday morning. Participants also had the opportunity to celebrate the sacrament of Reconciliation and take part in a Eucharistic Adoration.