More than 20,000 youth will come to area for the National Catholic Youth Conference
by Kara Hansen
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — The last time the National Catholic Youth Convention (NCYC) was held in Kansas City just 12 short years ago, there was a grand total of only eight youth ministers working in the archdiocese — and the entire event fit neatly inside Bartle Hall.
This year, more than 65 youth ministers will be accompanying kids to the event from parishes across northeast Kansas. And it is expected to draw so many Catholic youth that two additional convention halls will be needed to fit everyone.
“Last time NCYC was here in 1997, it transformed our archdiocese,” said Dana Nearmyer, archdiocesan coordinator for evangelization and Catholic formation. “Our hope and earnest prayer is for the archdiocese to have the same experience this time, too.”
When the biennial three-day event returns to Kansas City this Nov. 19, it will provide local teens a chance to celebrate their Catholic faith with some 23,000 other young Catholics from across the country.
Co-hosted by the archdiocese and the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, NCYC participants will fill the Sprint Center, Municipal Auditorium, and Bartle Hall in downtown Kansas City, Mo.
“Having Kansas City as a location is great because we’re in the middle of the country,” said Kimberly Rode, archdiocesan consultant for youth and young adult ministries.
The theme chosen for the event is “Christ Reigns,” taken from the Book of Revelation: “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign for ever and ever” (11:15).
“The experience teens get of the larger church at NCYC is very unique. There are not many other Catholic events out there of this magnitude, and definitely not ones just for youth,” said Rode.
“What we find is that even though we’re part of the largest church in the world, many kids feel a sense of isolation,” said Nearmyer. “They’re often amazed by the sheer numbers of people in the arena at NCYC. It makes Jesus real for them.”
Catholic musicians and vocal artists like Matt Maher, Steve Angrisano and Righteous B are among the headliners. Among the presenters will be renowned chastity speakers Jason and Chrystalina Evert and former MTV reality star Matt Smith of Life Teen Ministries.
As part of the NCYC festivities, a “thematic park” has been created as a place for teens to hang out, participate in service projects, and enjoy sports and arts and crafts in between sessions. Space has also been set aside for prayer. Additionally, exhibitors and vendors from around the country will have booths set up for teens to explore.
“Part of the goal of NCYC is to connect teens to Jesus Christ so they can find real answers in their lives,” said Nearmyer. “The hope is we get as many kids as possible interested in a deep spiritual life and then have them go back and get involved with ministry at their own parishes.”
There are spots for 1,200 youth from the archdiocese to participate in NCYC. The deposit date is June 1, so Nearmyer encouraged teens to sign up as soon as possible through their parish or youth minister.
“People can use the time between signing up and NCYC as preparation for the event, both in doing fundraising as well as spiritual preparation,” said Nearmyer.