This past Sunday, I arrived at the Doubletree in Scottsdale, Arizona for the Catholic Youth Ministry hosted by Life Teen. I was excited to see a few friends, looking for refreshment and inspiration, maybe hoping to learn something, and a little out of whack. (I was in the desert, after all.) After being there for just a few minutes, I realized that I was in for so much more.
My room had a mix-up, so I couldn’t check in, which forced me to essentially wander around the hotel with my bags for a while – until a slightly familiar face gave me a look that told me that she also found me a slightly familiar face. After we figured out where we knew each other from, my new friend Brittany, henceforth known as B2 asked if I wanted to leave my stuff in her room until it got sorted. Hospitality from almost strangers? I’ll take it!
A few minutes before the start of the main program in the “Forum,” which was the main large group room, I went down to find a seat, and hopefully come across another familiar face or two. I walked in to find a pal (Kevin!) who gave me a big hug – turned around and had 2 or 3 more friends approaching, and while I was saying hello to them, more familiar faces were making their way over. I turned to Kevin and said “I feel like I’m at a family reunion.” He responded immediately “You are.”
That feeling never went away – the entire four days of the event. I met many new friends over the weekend – got to know some more than others – but I felt welcomed and I felt at home with everyone.
Life Teen works very hard to foster this community and to help everyone feel like they are a part of the family. I know that Life Teen has been a large part of my own feeling of being a part of something bigger than just me tucked in a hidden office. There is a whole community – there is a whole movement of youth ministers around the world working with the same vision of youth ministry – bringing teens to Christ through the sacraments.
There is an almost ridiculous enthusiasm and excitement about this movement – and about this community and every single attendee of this convention felt a part of that family. Thank you to Life Teen for the tireless efforts in putting on an awesome conference – with great worship music, inspiring & challenging speakers, well focused & prayerful liturgy, hilarious entertainment, and informative workshops. But more than that, thank you for gathering this family of Life Teen that has grown throughout the country & world over the past years.
And those who attended along with Life Teen tried to keep those who weren’t attending physically in the loop and a part of what was going on. If you have twitter – sorry, you were totally twitter bombed for the four days. We attendees couldn’t help it – and with Life Teen re-tweeting countless of our comments, reactions & thoughts, you may have been on overload – but it was all an attempt to communicate the awesomeness of what was going on, include others in the Convention, and spread the word of what we were learning & doing.
Literally, infants, children, young adults, and grandparents were gathered together loving each other, basking in the love of Christ that was presented to us in so many fashions… But the even more awesome part is that Life Teen didn’t stop at just gathering us – the whole convention had a sense of mission to it. It was all about being sent forth to unleash the power of our teens on the world.
Life Teen not only gathered us, made us feel like family, entertained us, challenged and inspired us, but sent us forth with a mission and a sense of confidence in our abilities to serve and bring Christ to those we meet – especially to teens.
To every single person who played any small amount or huge amount in this CYMC – thank you.