More than 3,100 Archdiocesan youth ‘filled with joy,’ gather in faith

August 18, 2015

HOUSTON — Usually teenagers spend their summer weekends shopping, watching movies, playing video games or spending time online. However, for more than 3,100 area youth talked about and celebrated their faith at the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston’s 59th Archdiocesan Youth Conference (AYC) July 31 to Aug 2.

For the very first time, the general sessions and Masses for the conference took place at the George R. Brown Convention Center in downtown Houston. In recent years, the assemblies had been held in the adjacent Hilton Americas-Houston.

“I am very excited about the momentum of AYC — every year it keeps growing,” said Brian K. Johnson, director of the Archdiocesan Office of Adolescent Catechesis and Evangelization. “In fact, it is because of the increased interest and enthusiasm for this event that we had to move to a larger venue. This move allows us to reach and serve more young people who desire to have a spiritual and communal journey with more than 3,100 peers and the adults who minister to them.” 

Johnson explained that the focus for this year’s AYC was “to rejuvenate the faith life of our youth, to help them get serious about life in Christ and His Church, and to learn the truth of the Gospel.” 

During AYC, the country’s largest diocesan youth conference, participants were able to talk freely and openly about the challenges they face. They had the opportunity to explore their role in the Church, learned how they can develop healthy relationships with peers, adults and parents, and experienced the reality of diverse cultures and faith expressions. 

It also provided a chance for these young people to explore issues of faith and learn how to respond to questions about Church teachings. 
“The Archdiocesan Youth Conference is a graced medium through which the youth are taught to seek to be models of Christ to their peers and are challenged to live a life of faith in order to become agents of transformation of the culture,” Daniel Cardinal DiNardo said. “Our youth are not only the Church of the future, but they are the Church of today. AYC is a wonderful testament that our young people are filled with joy and zeal for Christ and the Gospel message.” 

Major presenters for the weekend included Leah Darrow, a former professional model and contestant on the reality TV show, America’s Next Top Model, who now travels the country speaking about her experiences, her conversion and the virtues of modesty and chastity; Doug Brummel, a nationally known comedian and storyteller; Matt and Stephanie Regitz; and Paul George. 

There was also a concert featuring the internationally renowned Catholic music artist, Matt Maher. Daily Mass was also offered during the conference, with Cardinal DiNardo presiding at the closing Mass Sunday. Participants also had the opportunity to take part in Eucharistic Adoration.

“A constant goal I have for AYC is that it opens the door for young people to grow deeper in their relationship with Christ and that they understand this is a life-long faith journey,” Johnson said. “Along the way, they will experience peaks and valleys, but God’s grace and love for them is providential. My hope is that through AYC, young people will have the opportunity to strengthen their faith and their love of the Church. The Church of Galveston-Houston is alive and vibrant, and it is an honor to walk this journey and witness faith in action among the youth that gather each year for this conference.” 

At the end of the conference, the theme for the 2016 Archdiocese Youth Conference was announced: “Blessed” from the Beatitudes in Matthew 5:7, which says, “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.”

For more information about AYC, visit