Bishop Hying: NCYC ‘perfect moment’ for young people
By Steve Euvino
Northwest Indiana Catholic
INDIANAPOLIS – Attending his first National Catholic Youth Conference, Bishop Donald J. Hying went from celebrating Mass for 250 representatives of the Diocese of Gary to addressing 24,000 youth and adult participants at the national gathering.
Speaking to those gathered at Lucas Oil Stadium, Bishop Hying appeared first in a video promoting the good works of the Catholic Church. Then, taking the stage in person, Gary’s bishop called a program such as NCYC a “perfect moment,” an opportunity when the faithful can “reach out and touch God.”
But there are also rough moments, Bishop Hying said, “times when we need to call on God and ask for his help.”
Referencing the Book of Acts, Bishop Hying said, “The Lord is calling us to be ourselves, each one of us.”
When we do that and we are filled with the Holy Spirit, the bishop said, there is a feeling “greater than you could ever imagine.”
Following a presentation by liturgical dancers, Bishop Hying told his youthful audience they did not have to look to the stars to see God. The secret of the saints, the bishop continued, was their ability to see Christ in every person they met, especially the poor. In addition to keynote speakers and workshops focusing on the 2015 theme of “Here I Am, Lord,” NCYC enabled young people to help the poor through various service projects, including stuffing 50,000 food baskets for Catholic Relief Services’ efforts in West Africa.
“For each one of you, we give thanks and praise,” Bishop Hying said in the stadium on Nov. 21. As the bishop prayed, “Help us to better be ourselves and help us to empty ourselves as Jesus did.”
One day earlier, in a nearby conference room, Bishop Hying, with Father Thomas Mischler from Holy Spirit, Winfield, celebrated Mass for the diocesan contingent.
Looking over an audience of teens covered in beads, pins, and comical headdresses, Bishop Hying said, “This is a sacred moment for us. What a blessing it is for us to be here. This moment is perfect… to be able to be part of the bigger Church … and go home with renewed faith.”
Recalling the parables of the prodigal son and the Good Shepherd, Bishop Hying said, in a culture drenched in conditional love, “God is looking for us. When we are faithful to God, he will set us free. He’ll do what we need.
“When we have faith, God is going to do great things for us,” the bishop went on. “When we are faithful to all the mysteries of life, life becomes full for us.”
The 33rd biennial national youth conference featured a Marian procession, Eucharistic adoration, and a closing Mass on Nov. 21. Twenty parishes and parish clusters, along with Andrean High School, sent teens and adult leaders. A similar, affiliated conference for college-aged young adults, with representatives from this diocese, was taking place that same weekend.
Just as Bishop Hying noted the pricelessness of that faith-filled moment downstate, several local teens had special moments at NCYC.
Mollie Gniadek, 15, from St. Teresa of Avila Catholic Student Center, Valparaiso, recalled crying during adoration. A stranger approached her, offered her a small cross, and joined her in crying. “That was so emotional and so profound,” Gniadek said. “God’s love is overwhelming.”
Mitchell Bolds, 17, from Holy Spirit, was feeling down before receiving the sacrament of reconciliation. Afterward, “I felt as light as a feather,” he said. “Things began to feel a lot more fun. Then other people went to confession and they started feeling better.”
Bolds felt “weighted down” and nervous before confession, “but you know God is there and he’ll listen. Things can get scary at times, but with God there, you can do it.”
When Angelica Small, 17, went to confession, the priest handed her a book dealing with finding inner beauty. A first-time attendee, Small, from St. John Bosco, Hammond, called NCYC “an amazing experience – so many people here to worship. We’re able to get closer to God and each other as Catholics.”
Sophie Moody, 15, from St. Patrick, Chesterton, said she felt “safe and welcome” at NCYC. “No one is going to judge you for who you are,” she said. “I learned there are a lot more people who have the same problems as me. It’s not just me.”