Editor / The Angelus
SAN ANGELO — Between 1,500-2,000 teenagers from Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas will descend on San Angelo, November 16-18, for the Region 10 Catholic Youth Conference.
Sister Adelina Garcia, who directs the youth ministry for the Diocese of San Angelo’s Office of Education and Formation, said she has been working in conjunction with the City of San Angelo for more than two years to secure the bid on hosting the event, which will have an economic impact on the city of almost a $250,000, and likely even more.
The conference’s theme, “Shaken By the Spirit,” is so named because of Pope Benedict XVI’s Year of Faith designation and the late Pope John Paul II’s New Evangelization effort. The Region X conference began in the 1980s with the purpose of introducing young people to the larger church.
“A lot of young people don’t understand the larger Church,” Sister Adelina said. “We are very congregationalist. People tend to see their own parish and don’t realize they belong to a diocese, a region, a national Church or the international Church. Regional representatives felt if we have a series of conferences the young people can see the regional face of the Church, which is Oklahoma, Texas and Arkansas.”
Anyone can come from any church within the region, Sister Garcia said. One of the hopes of ministers and directors within the region is to attract those teens on the fringe, children who have not yet developed a full spirituality and can ‘take or leave’ the Church and Mass experience.
The “Shaken by the Spirit” conference will give young people a taste of Texas. Part of the activities will be held in one of San Angelo’s football stadiums (“Friday Night Lights” is the conference’s secondary theme), and Saturday evening events will be hosted at Fort Concho, where students will see soldiers and women in costume and a 19th century baseball game.
Presenters will include the popular Father Tony Ricard, who has been well-received at past youth conferences, and Doug Tooke, of Monarch Catholic Ministries, another speaker popular with young people. The weekend will culminate with a 9:15 a.m. closing liturgy Sunday.
Sister Garcia says she expects between 400-500 youth from the diocese to attend. Those interested but not sure how to attend should contact their pastor, a deacon, or youth director.
The weekend activities are planned by the young people, which gives them a further stake in the process.
The regional conferences were not intended as profitable events, but have proven to be very successful, allowing Region 10 to establish an endowment which helps regional and diocesan directors fund necessary items for the development of their ministries.
Past conferences were held strictly in the region’s larger cities such as Dallas, Houston and San Antonio. Recent host cities have included other diocesan cities such as Amarillo, Oklahoma City and Little Rock.
Sister Garcia said she is happy to see that San Angelo’s infrastructure is now capable of handling what could be as many as 2,000 teenagers for a weekend.
“This is a great opportunity for younger people to experience the larger church,” Sister Adelina said.