Monday, November 23, 2009

Bishop Finn Thanks NCYC Organizers - Says Youth 'are the Gaudium et Spes' of the Church

Following is Kansas City – St. Joseph Bishop Robert W. Finn’s column from the upcoming edition of The Catholic Key:

Give Thanks: “Christ Reigns” at National Catholic Youth Conference

By Most Rev. Robert W. Finn

I have to admit that, as bishop, I get to do some pretty exciting things! Celebrating the Mass of Christ the King at Kansas City’s Sprint Center with 20 thousand young people was one of those special moments.

We had the privilege of hosting the 2009 National Catholic Youth Conference in the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, November 19-21. A record crowd from all over the United States attended, and I cannot say “thank you” enough to all the folks who made this event such a powerful moment of evangelization.

At Holy Mass Saturday night I thanked the many bishops, priests, and deacons who participated (almost thirty bishops; 200+ priests – including many of our own priests who came in throughout these days to hear thousands of Confessions; and scores of Religious sisters and brothers, deacons, and seminarians). Bishop Jaime Soto, Bishop of Sacramento and national moderator for NCYC, gave a beautiful homily (available on the Catholic Key Blog). Archbishop Joseph Naumann was at my side, and our counterparts at the Archdiocese of Kansas City, Kansas helped us every step of the way. For a run down of this event check out the Catholic Key and the website.

Our diocesan youth director, Jon Schaffhausen, with KCK director, Dana Nearmyer, did a stellar job, as did so many of our parish youth directors and chaperones from all over the diocese. I suspect that our young people will go back to their pastors with requests for more opportunities to grow in their faith. That is a wonderful challenge that all the faithful should be ready to help us meet.

We had the constant help of about 1500 volunteers who gave direction and provided hospitality to our visitors. Thanks to the Knights of Columbus and various other sponsors and participants who assisted in many ways. Cosentino’s gave us parking. The Kansas City police worked with us every step of the way, and were extremely diligent in securing the safety and well being of our guests who were all over the streets of the Power and Light district. I was amazed that I saw almost no litter, and a great respect for law and property from our youth. The staffs of Sprint Center and Bartle Hall, and the technical production crews made everything “work.” Helen Gray at the Kansas City Star highlighted many nice things, and the Mayor and City Council presented us with a special proclamation. Families all over the country will get a good report on Kansas City when the kids get home.

Our Director of Communications, Becky Summers, assisted the many Media with gracious professionalism. The new Office of Worship Director, Deacon Ralph Wehner, provided appropriately reverential settings for the liturgical celebrations and worked non-stop to keep all of the clergy going in the right direction. The National Directors of NCYC, particularly Bob McCarty and his staff, did so much to make this event wonderful. We had inspiring speakers, spiritually enriching entertainment, impressive interactional exhibits, and constant coverage from MyCatholicVoice and Catholic radio and television.

The greatest thanks, though, go to higher authorities: God blessed us with weather beyond our prayers – so that we could walk through the streets these days with excitement and devotion. I will long remember our huge Eucharistic Procession – a first in the history of NCYC!

The Holy Spirit did powerful work, the extent of which we will never know this side of heaven. And our young people welcomed Him into their hearts. We can be proud that we had some small part in forming apostles and disciples in the “young Church.” Young Church: I thank you all for coming! You are the Gaudium et Spes – the Joy and Hope – of the Church in the modern world.

Our goal and inspiration, of course, was Jesus Christ our King. The theme “Christ Reigns” was more than a theme. We made it our prayer. As we celebrate Thanksgiving and move toward Advent, please join me in begging Him to be King of our hearts; of our homes, our communities, and our world.

Christ Reigns! Christ Reigns! Christ Reigns!