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41st Annual Youth Conference Attracts More than 600

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The 41st Annual Diocese of Raleigh Catholic Youth Convention took place at the Greenville Convention Center, May 13-15, 2011. The theme was, “I Believe,” based on the Gospel of Mark 9:23. Approximately 600 high school students, staff and chaperones participated in the event.

Youth Convention is a weekend-long gathering in which parish youth ministry groups come together for workshops, prayer experiences, awards, social activity and the election of the next youth board. The 2011 convention concluded with the celebration of Mass with the Most Reverend Michael F. Burbidge presiding.

Bishop Burbidge noted how the theme of the convention, I Believe, ties in closely with the Readings of the day on the Good Shepherd. “To say, ‘I believe,’ means that I have knowledge of the faith I profess,” the Bishop said. To say, ‘I believe’ implies a relationship with the One in whom I place my faith and my life. We will only be authentic witnesses capable of leading others to the Lord if our faith involves an intimate relationship with Him that is reflected in word and deed. If not, we are merely actors and will lack credibility and integrity.”

Reminding the students that the source of their strength lies in the Eucharist and in His Word, Bishop Burbidge said, “With that strength, may we return home today with a renewed commitment to continue our faith formation, to deepen our prayer life, to walk in the footsteps of the Lord and to allow Him to strengthen us in Word and Sacrament.”

“I’ve been working with this convention for 14 years as an adult,” said Mike Smith, Convention Coordinator. “Seeing all the young people from across the Diocese come together for one common goal, to share their faith and to share their love, is inspiring to me.”

Featured guests were Catholic recording artist Jackie Francois and Daniel Harms and Kyle Heimann of Popple, a two-man acoustic-humor rock band. Both artists also offered workshops and provided the music at the closing Mass. “You can have faith as a young person,” said Harms, “and you can have a tremendous amount of joy and fun in your life and be a good Catholic. There is a lot of joy in our faith.”

Convention workshops included “Gospel Themes in Music” by Fr. Patrick Tuttle, O.F.M; “Apologetics: The Tools of the Catholic Jedi Ninja” by Diocesan Youth Ministry Coordinator Patrick Diener; and "Decoding Your Parents" by Deacon Mark Westrick. The weekend also provided students with Adoration, Benediction and the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

In his remarks at the conclusion of Mass, Mr. Diener commended the students for their commitment to their faith. “Out of all the things you could be doing this weekend, you chose to be here,” Mr. Diener said. He also extended his gratitude to the outgoing Diocesan Youth Board for its work this past year, as witnessed by the success of the convention.

Seniors were recognized at a special lunch and program, while the underclassmen enjoyed a carnival during their free time. Recognition awards were presented to 16 volunteers celebrating 5, 10 and 15 years of dedicated service.

2011-2012 Diocesan Youth Board

Alexis Currence - Cape Fear Deanery
Andrew Lee - Cape Fear Deanery
Tyler Niggle - Cape Fear Deanery
Shelby Anderson - Fayetteville Deanery
Susan Harrington - Fayetteville Deanery
Bobby Montedonico - New Bern Deanery
Erin Mullins - Newton Grove Deanery
Elizabeth Olsen - Piedmont Deanery
Nick Clemons - Piedmont Deanery
Valentina Cordova - Raleigh Deanery
Julie Ludovici - Raleigh Deanery
Sarah Smith - Raleigh Deanery
Kevin Travers - Raleigh Deanery

Above: More than 600 students, chaperones and staff gathered for the celebration of Mass at 41st Annual Diocesan Youth Convention.

Below: Bishop Michael F. Burbidge with newly appointed 2011-2012 Diocesan Youth Board.