OACE: A glance behind and the road ahead

December 26, 2017

As we celebrate this Christmas Season, I cannot help to take a moment and reflect on what a change 2017 has had on myself.

In June, the Office of Adolescent Catechesis and Evangelization (OACE) lost our beloved director and friend, Brian Johnson. He was a dynamic leader, catechist and advocate for youth ministry for not only the Archdiocese, but also the nation. Brian’s love and devotion for the youth was shown in many ways, especially in his commitment and building of the Archdiocesan Youth Conference (AYC) and the Camp Kappe Youth Retreat Facility. His sudden loss was a great shock to the entire Archdiocese.

A month later, we saw the passing of one of our key coordinators for AYC, Jorge Cavazos, who a major part of AYC for 20 years. Then, we all suffered the effects of Hurricane Harvey, and the loss many of us continue to experience from this storm.

Despite this sense of devastation, our God has been there for us to offer healing and hope. He brought us strength through the countless volunteers who helped us through the storm and the joy with the Astros winning the World Series for the very first time. We now look ahead to 2018, and are excited to continue to accompany our young people as they work to grow as disciples of Christ.

In conjunction with our daily role to support pastors and youth ministry leaders through formation programs, training and parish consultation as well as many other formation programs, the OACE also has three major events this coming year.

Our first event is the annual Archdiocesan Junior High Youth Rally on Feb. 24, 2018 at Sts. Simon and Jude. This year’s theme is “Faithful and Fearless” based on Luke 1:30, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.” We are called to follow Mother Mary’s example to serve humbly and faithfully without fear. At the rally, we will break open our theme through messages, service workshops, the Grand Midway carnival, along with prayer experiences and Mass. The rally brings together more than 800 youth in grades sixth to eighth to enrich their own sense of the Catholic community, evangelization and a deeper relationship with Christ.

This summer OACE will launch a new program called WITNESS Catholic Mission Camp. The goal of this camp is to provide young people with an experience of mission and service in our local Archdiocese. This five-day camp is a catechetical and evangelistic experience for young people. It seeks to draw them into a fuller life of discipleship as they embrace their role in the mission of Christ and His Church while reinforcing the importance of Catholic Social Teaching in their daily lives. The camp will be open to incoming ninth graders through graduating seniors, and it will be held on June 10 to 14, 2018.

In July, Daniel Cardinal DiNardo invites all incoming freshman to graduated seniors to the 62nd Annual Archdiocesan Youth Conference (AYC). This conference gathers over 2,600 participants and is the largest evangelization event for high school youth within the Archdiocese.

AYC is Cardinal DiNardo’s official gathering of the Young Church of Galveston-Houston. It is designed to give them an opportunity to celebrate their faith, learn about their role in the local Church while challenging them to live out their faith when they return to their parishes. Participants will encounter Jesus Christ through their peers, youth ministry leaders, priests and especially in the Eucharist and the Sacraments of the Church. They will experience dynamic presentations of the Gospel message and authentic Catholic Church teaching from some of the best national presenters in the evangelization of young people the country has to offer. The weekend concludes on Sunday with Mass celebrated by the Cardinal.

This year’s AYC theme is “Chosen,” which is based on the World Youth Day Scripture for 2018, Luke 1:30, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.”

Our theme will focus on the virtue of our Baptism as sons and daughters of Christ as we are called to be priest, prophet and king. The conference will be held on July 20 to 22, 2018 at the George R. Brown Convention Center. Youth must register with the parish. For more information on the programs we offer, please visit our website at www.archgh.org/oace.

From all of us at the Office of Adolescent Catechesis & Evangelization, we hope you and your families continue to have a joyful Christmas Season and a happy New Year!

Randy Adams is an associate director with the Archdiocesan Office of Adolescent Catechesis and Evangelization.