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Evansville, Indiana
December 5, 1997     The Message
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December 5, 1997

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The Message -- for Catholics of southwestern Indiana N CYC participants return home 'charged By MARY'ANN HUGHES Message staff writer Rachel Heichelbech says one of the best things about her recent trip to Kansas City was meeting a lot of new people. The 14-year-old from Haubstadt says she met people from Mississip- pi, Kansas, California and "Indi- ana too," and she's planning to stay in touch with all of them. Rachel and 68 others from the Diocese of Evansville recently traveled to Kansas City, Mo., for the National Catholic Youth Conference. Rachel said she was encour- aged to attend the conference by Becky Epperson, the Youth Min- istry Coordinator at Sts. Peter and Paul Church, Haubstadt. "I wanted to learn more about my faith," Rachel said. By the time the conference was over, she had decided that "you shouldn't be afraid to express your faitlq. You should go out and tell people about it." Gregory Holt, a 17-year-old parishioner at St. John Church, Evansville, says the highlight of the youth conference for him was the opportunity to attend the Youth Forum. Only 200 young adults, out of the 18,000 attending the confer- ence, were chosen to attend the forum. Holt said he was joined at the forum by other youth and bishops from around the coun- try. "We discussed what we would like to see in the Catholic Church. We talked about the Church, about keeping the tra- dition but changing it, too." It was during that discussion that Holt realized "how much leadership we have in the Church." He said he attended the con- ference "because Sister Jane asked me to." Sister of the Blessed Sacrament Jane Nesmith is Parish Life Coordinator at St. John. Although Holt thought the conference would be a "great experience," he was surprised at the positive spotlight focused on the youth. "Usually, we are put on the back burner, but they said, 'This isn't our Church it's your Church.' That put things in a new perspective, because it was the .bishops of the Church telling us that." He walked away from the con- ference "taking the Lord's name with me. We carried it with us for four whole days, and every- body was ready to go out and testify. It was contagious." He hopes to apply what he learned at the conference to his parish. "I want to tell them what I've learned and tell them what I want to give back to the Church." Michael Weaver, a catechist at St. Joseph Church, Princeton, also came away from the youth conference "charged up. There are a lot of things I want to do now with my youth." Sixty-nine young adults and parish leaders prepare to depart for the National C ference, held Nov. 20 -- 23 in Kansas City, Mo. The size of the conference impressed Weaver, who said that he had never been to "anything that big. On the last day, at Mass there were 18,000 people." He left the conference with "a lot. I'm hoping that I can find the courage to pull everything together that I want to." Diocesan participants to the youth conference came from Evansville, Washington, Jasper, Newburgh, Haubstadt, Vin- cennes, Ferdinand, Princeton and Daylight. Bear Christ's cross, youths told at conference's closing Mass KANSAS CITY, Mo. (CNS) Wearing Christ's crown means bearing Christ's cross, the pas- tor of Nativity Parish in Wash- ington told teen-agers at the National Catholic Youth Con- ference in Kansas City. Msgr. East also congratulated the young people for their wit- ness of faith during the confer- ence, but told them the many more thousands of youths who didn't co/he need their witness when they go home. learn about Jesus through his word, noting that the American Bible Society would provide each of them with a copy of the Gospel of John as they left the closing Mass. "If you know Jesus in his "You can't wear his crown if you : !!i can't, bear his cross,' Msgr. Ray East said in a y heart is so burdened for young homily duringthe Roman Catholics who go through closing Mass Nov. 23 at the biennial baptism, confirmation, and years of Catholic conference, school and still don't have a clue who Jesus is As thousands "My heart is so burdened for young Roman Catholics who go through baptism, confirmation, and years of Catholic school and still don't have a clue who Jesus is," he said. "Then when someone from (the evangelical Protestan0 Cru- sade for Christ comes up to them on campus, it's like they are accepting Jesus for the first time," he said. "Well," Msgr. East said, "if you can't find Jesus in this of teen-agers listened attentive- ly -- and shouted back "Amen" when the Washington priest gave them the cue -- Msgr. East sent many of the youths squirming in their seats when he challenged them to ask them- selves how well they kept the covenant of the Nov. 20-23 con- ference. - In that covenant, the youths promised to stay away from drugs and alcohol, to keep a midnight curfew and stay out of the hotel rooms of other youths, and not to disturb other guests in their hotels while in Kansas City. "It wasa simple covenant," said Msgr. East. "But for some of us, it was hard to keep for just four days. What are we going to do when we have to keep the covenant of Jesus Christ for the word, his word will get inside of you and you will take him wherever you go," he said. Msgr. East said that some- thing profound happened in Kansas City as thousands of teen-agers made new friends with peers from across the nation. "We became members of one family, the body of Christ. In this hall, there is no divi- sion. There are no strangers," he said. Catholic Church, you can't find He urged them to take that him anywhere. ...... .  i lesson home. "If you,can build "We know.:Jesus; tiihei:,,, a commurfity here in four days, said. "We know him fr'0ur:  you can build it anywhere," he selves. But it is not enough to know him. We have got totake his reign into our hearts. To accept him as our Lord and Sav- ior, we have to accept what he wants us to do." Msgr. East told the youths to said. At the close of his homily, he borrowed from an evangelical "altar call" and asked youths to stand, but only if they were will- ing to witness to Christ at home and-really meant-it.- ........... ret oiOttt: lve .............. of the Diocese of sign that read, "No the teens carried  Throughout America's history young.people alysts for change, Henderson sid. Among the were the civil rights and anti-war movements "You must create something better than ' you must not be a slave to socie A disrespect for life in America is unborn children are less than human ' " cides, substance abuse and tolerance and classism, Henderson said. "I want you to go home and fight to make sure sacred again," he said. He asked young people to: * Treat their bodies as sacred. , Advocate for shelter, food, health care, and other basic needs for all people. , Stand against when they were ::: conference, t time to make a difference, RUXER FORD - LINCOLN - MERCURY