by Jessica Langdon
When asked how Indianapolis compared to her hometown of Onaga, St. Vincent de Paul parishioner Alexis Johnson threw her head back and laughed.
“Well,” she smiled, “there’s not as much traffic.
“There’s not as many people.
“There’s not as many buildings.”
And she could have gone on.
No, there aren’t as many people in Alexis’ entire county (Pottawatomie: population 21,604) as there were young Catholics (23,000-plus) filling Lucas Oil Stadium for the National Catholic Youth Conference, Nov. 17 to 19, in Indianapolis.
As for the pace, well, “it’s always go, go, go,” said fellow parishioner Morgan Valburg.
But the teens wouldn’t have had it any other way.
Indianapolis was Onaga Catholic Mitchell Hermreck’s first NCYC, but it might not be his last.
“It’s pretty neat,” said Mitchell. “I’m liking it.”
The Onaga contingent was just one of dozens of groups of teens, youth ministers, clergy and chaperones (for a total of 850) from the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas who braved a nine-hour trip on 16 buses to attend the massive, biennial, national Catholic youth event. The conference theme this year was “Called to Glory.”
But whether they came from the big city or smaller burgs like Onaga, they had one thing that bonded them: their Catholic faith.
“I just like seeing billions and billions of people — Catholics, because we’re awesome,” said Morgan. “It’s amazing to see how many people are like you and people who believe in the same things you believe in.”
Well, not literally billions. It just felt that way after meeting and talking to so many other friendly, faith-filled Catholic youth.
“You just can relate to them easily,” said Lane Minihan, a parishioner of St. Columbkille Parish in Blaine, just southwest of Onaga.
Now that they’re back home, the Onaga contingent has a lot of great experiences to look back on and one important thing to remember: the next NCYC is only two years away.