CYX – presenting Gospel message in language teens can understand
This weekend teens and their adult youth ministry leaders will gather in Valparaiso for the 11th annual Catholic Youth Xperience, our Catholic youth ministry conference for high school-aged youth. CYX plays an integral role in the faith formation of a few hundred teens each summer. While their peers are elsewhere, CYX participants are gathered in Valparaiso to have an “xperience” of a life lived in Christ. It is my hope and the hope of CYX organizers that our teens return home ready to evangelize their peers.
CYX is the showcase event for youth ministry in our diocese, a chance to truly transform teens by presenting the Gospel message in a language they can understand. Each year, the CYX Planning Team presents a new menu of speakers, prayer services, catechetical sessions and activities. Teens have come to embrace CYX, and have made the diocesan conference a highlight of their summer.
Evidence indicates that participation in formal church activities – including youth ministry and faith formation – drops following the Sacrament of Confirmation. Yet each summer we see firsthand the positive and transformational impact events like CYX have on older teens. Connecting unchurched or non-participating teens to youth ministry is a challenge with no easy answers.
This year’s CYX seeks to help teens and parish leaders alike in their efforts to reach out to those who haven’t yet experienced the love of Christ. The Office for Youth & Young Adults has partnered with Cultivation Ministries to present “Positively Dangerous,” a retreat-like event based on a book written by award-winning author and ministry consultant Frank Mercadante.
We are sadly too aware that many teens engage in very dangerous behaviors. Mercadante wants teens to embrace a different kind of “dangerous” lifestyle: a “Positively Dangerous” teen is one who evangelizes the faith to friends and family, and performs deeds that leave little doubt that Christ is Present. A “Positively Dangerous” teen isn’t content to merely call himself or herself Catholic. He or she proclaims that faith proudly through word and action.
While teens will leave CYX inspired to live that lifestyle in their homes, churches and communities, adult leaders will also leave CYX with practical tools and resources to assist them in ministry planning well into the fall and beyond.
In Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis asks all Catholics to joyfully proclaim the Gospel. Teen events like CYX are filled with joy, and I am confident that teens in Northwest Indiana have the power to be a positive force in the New Evangelization of the faith.
I thank all of the parish leaders who have worked so hard to recruit teens to participate in the 2014 Catholic Youth Xperience, particularly those who will be attending CYX for the first time. May your efforts bear much fruit!
It is my sincere hope that youth attending CYX will have a profound encounter with Christ, and that they will leave Valparaiso ready to bring “Positively Dangerous” behavior back to their communities!