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More than 600 Attend 40th Annual Diocesan Youth Conference

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May 14-16th marked the 40th Annual Catholic Youth Convention in the Diocese of Raleigh. The weekend-long convention was held at the Greenville, N.C. Convention Center. Approximately 600 high school students, staff and chaperones were in attendance.

The theme of this year’s convention was “We are witnessing Christ.” The convention kicked off Friday night with a concert by the popular singer, storyteller and keynote speaker, Steve Angrisano.

The weekend offered students Adoration and Benediction, the Sacrament of Reconciliation, speakers and workshops. The workshops covered a variety of topics such as “Lights, Camera, Action…Where is Jesus in Our Movies?” by Leo Moreda and “YBC (Why Be Catholic?)” by Fr. Scott McCue and Georgie Clemens.

Father Patrick Tuttle OFM, who ministered in the Diocese of Raleigh at St. Francis of Assisi Church in Raleigh and Immaculate Conception Church in Durham, and now ministers in Greenville, S.C., gave a presentation titled, “Answering the Call.”

“I was pleasantly surprised this year,” Father Tuttle said, “when I was told of three vocations that had been accepted from previous youth conventions and I had the honor to hear about a fourth discernment, very much in progress. This Convention is a field of fruit for Jesus, filled with the Holy Spirit and ready to serve. What an honor to be here.”

Alexis Currence, a student from Saint Mark Parish in Wilmington, said her favorite part of the Convention was Fr. Tuttle. “He talks on a level that teenagers can relate to and answered some tough questions,” Currence said. “I will be able to really use the answers he gave us when I’m questioned by my non-Catholic friends.”

Recognition awards were given to those celebrating special milestones of service to Diocesan Youth Ministry:

  • 20 Years of Service: Sandy Yarborough
  • 25 Years of Service: Randy Kukoly
  • 30 years of Service: Dan Strain

“I believe, the youth are the future of our Church and we have to keep them involved and growing in their faith,” said Chip Williams, Adult Coordinator, who also received an award for ten years of adult service but has been involved in Convention for seventeen years. Williams said, “Because of programs like Search, Back to Earth and Jamboree, I’m here today, to hopefully touch other’s lives and do my part to give back.”

Gail Hernandez, an adult chaperone for the past eleven years from Saint Eugene Catholic Church in Wendell, said, “I love that the Diocese provides a place where the kids can come and be totally accepted for who they are today.  Our parish youth group has kids from at least three different counties and close to ten different schools, and yet they are able to find common ground at our weekly meetings.”

The Convention concluded Sunday, May 16th, with Mass celebrated by the Most Reverend Michael F. Burbidge, Bishop of Raleigh.