Thousands of youth converge on Kansas City to celebrate their faith

A group of youth and young adults from the Diocese of Wichita holds up a sign at the NCYC gathering in Kansas City last month.

By Christine Edmonds
The theme “Christ Reigns” couldn’t have been more accurate during the 2009 National Catholic Youth Conference held Nov. 19-21 in Kansas City, Mo. You could feel the presence of Christ among the 21,000 participants, who were just beaming with pride in their Catholic faith.
Even the local police force that typically patrols the Power & Light District commented on how nice everyone was, and how they are unaccustomed to young people smiling at them and thanking them for their service.
That, in itself, was a powerful witness to the local community. But in addition to well-behaved and jubilant youth, this year’s NCYC included a beautiful hour of Eucharistic Adoration in the Sprint Center followed by a Eucharistic Procession up 14th street to the Convention Center with all of the participants.
Our group was towards the end of the procession of about 21,000, but even there groups were expressing their devotion in various ways. Some were singing and some were praying the rosary. One group sang song-after-song in Spanish, and never tired throughout our walk. It was an amazing experience!
In addition to the public Eucharistic Procession, another feature marked this year’s NCYC. It was live-streamed on People all over the world, including Baghdad, were watching and joining in this celebration, and thanking us for the powerful witness of the young Catholic Church.
One couple in the Kansas City area was so moved, they pledged a $100,000 matching grant to the Catholic Youth Foundation for the collection taken up during the closing Mass.
I couldn’t help but reflect on the fact that 12 years ago, NCYC was held in Kansas City, and it marked the beginning of the huge thematic parks that have become a regular feature at these conferences. With the return to the heartland, NCYC has now begun a new era in the digital age.
Many of the young people who attended this year’s event are already working on getting their friends to join them in 2011 in Indianapolis for the next NCYC.
Nicholas Ketter, a member of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish, Wichita, said he was inspired by the event. “This conference was a great way to renew my faith, in addition to allowing myself to reflect upon my relationship with God. ”
Edmonds is director of the diocesan office of Youth & Young Adult Ministries.