by James Ramos
HOUSTON (CNS) — Surrounded by thousands of teens from throughout the Houston region at the 2017 Archdiocesan Youth Conference, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston encouraged the youth to seek holiness in all parts of their lives.
Cardinal DiNardo, who is the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, closed the weekend July 30 by celebrating Sunday Mass, capping a jampacked July 28-30 weekend in downtown Houston.
Presented by the Galveston-Houston Archdiocese’s Office of Adolescent Catechesis and Evangelization, the conference offered more than 2,600 teens a chance to experience the local church’s diversity and embrace the opportunity to share and deepen their faith through daily Mass, confession and other prayer experiences.
“You’ve had speakers who have spoken to you about good judgments, they’ve spoken to you about growing in wisdom,” Cardinal DiNardo told the teens in his homily. “Good judgment and wisdom and using our resources to grow in the Lord, we just call it holiness. I hope you leave convinced that holiness is not a category outside your life.”
The theme of this year’s conference was “Holiness” and featured a half-dozen speakers with music by contemporary worship leader Ike Ndolo of Tempe, Arizona.
“AYC challenges youth to live out their faith by giving them the tools they need to defend the faith in all aspects of life,” said Libby Diamond, the archdiocesan youth council chair. Diamond is a parishioner at St. Martha Church in Kingwood and will be a high school senior this fall.
“By learning about what the church teaches and making new friends who share those values, young people are inspired to be witnesses to the faith in their own communities,” she told the Texas Catholic Herald, the archdiocesan newspaper.
The devotion to Our Lady of Fatima, seen through the eyes of the children who saw her 100 years ago, was featured throughout the weekend. Friday evening included a special rosary to Our Lady of Fatima for the repose of the souls of the dead, including the late Brian Johnson, who was the director of the director of the archdiocese’s Office of Adolescent Catechesis and Evangelization and founder of the Archdiocesan Youth Conference.
A respected national leader in youth ministry, Johnson died June 19. He was 52.
Cardinal DiNardo told the youth to be “missionary disciples” in everything.
“Remember all the good things the Lord has brought you to you already, though you may not know them yet, use this year because you’re the leaven in the dough,” he said. “You’re going to be missionary disciples from this day on, you’re the ones that are going to carry out in your parishes, schools, wherever can be, you’re going to carry out a work of holiness.”
The conference helps give young people the courage to stand up for their beliefs in a world that is constantly challenging them, according to James Carrasco, director of youth ministry at St. Helen Catholic Church in Pearland.
“It also provides an environment for the teens to build new friendships that are rooted in Christ and his church, he said. “The end result is a wonderful community of young believers that will grow together in holiness.”
“God has never made anyone who isn’t perfect in His eyes as they came forth from His creative heart and mind. You are important,” Cardinal DiNardo said. “In our culture at large, young people, you’re only important as long as you’re useful — all things useful are packaged and consumed. You’ve neither been packaged, nor can you be consumed.
“No, you’ve been called,” he continued. “You are precious, even as you find the treasure of the kingdom of heaven. You’re a treasure, and everyone you meet is a treasure.”
Cardinal DiNardo reminded the teens that they, too, are called to be leaders in the Catholic Church.
“In your good judgments, as was true with Solomon and little Daniel,” he said, “you may be able to lead us, the elders, in right judgment.”