2013 Family and Youth Conference Reflection

By Michele Pothen

As someone who has attended the annual Family and Youth Conference every year since a child, my feelings and experience with it has evolved each year. From sports day, to inspirational speakers, to the always entertaining talent show, FYC packages an interesting balance between fellowship and spiritual enlightenment. When I was younger, the Family and Youth conference was always the highlight of my summer. I got to hang out with some of my church friends around the diocese for three whole days, I learned how to make countless arts and crafts projects, and I could sing all the praise and worship songs for hours in a day. As I’ve gotten older, FYC is still the highlight of my summer- but for slightly different reasons: I get to listen to speakers from all around the diocese, meet countless of new people, and, of course, sing praise and worship songs for hours in a day. FYC offers an incomparable experience for all age groups and serves as a spiritual summer cleanse. The main two focuses of the conference, fellowship and praise, are always communicated in different ways to the participants so going every year does not feel overly repetitive. Overall, FYC is an essential part of my summer as it aids in my spiritual growth and brings me closer to my church family.

In terms of curriculum, FYC is not your typical area retreat or conference- it is much more than that. In recent years, the sessions have evolved from simply speakers lecturing for hours, to smaller discussion groups where each group teaches about a topic and discusses it. This type of learning is more hands on and makes the material much more impactful on the participants as they are shifted into this more proactive role.Another recent development at the family and youth conference is the establishment of “super sessions.” A day during FYC can seem very scheduled; depending on your age group, there is always some place to be at each time of day. The super sessions consist of three sessions on three different topics which run at the same time. Participants are able to choose which topic interests them most and attend that particular session. This development has allowed for FYC to cover more topics and for participants to hone in on topics that they would like to learn more about. However, my personal favorite spiritual aspect of FYC is the speech given before Holy Confession is offered. Often given by a clergy member, this speech tends to resonate with its listeners the most. This is where the true spiritual cleansing comes into play as the speech often consists of a reminder that we need to be cleansed ever so often to continue a healthy relationship with God through the church. It’s this one powerful speech that introduces one of the most sacred sacraments of the church and allows us to experience God’s true forgiving nature. To me, FYC has served as an annual spiritual enlightening retreat and leaves me with a rejuvenated mind. While this aspect is an important element in the FYC experience, it goes hand in hand with the essential fellowship which occurs as well.

Fellowship is facilitated in multiple ways throughout the three day conference. The obvious mechanism is the ability to meet and spend time with new people during sessions and free time. It is extremely important that we partake in fellowship activities with people who belong to our church as it builds a support system for us and strengthens our relationship with our church family. Each night, the MGOCSM leaders also host fellowship events for the youth, particularly game nights and various activities which bring the MGOCSM present closer together. Another event which promotes this church fellowship is the sports day where all the participants partake in a variety of field events. It can be compared to one giant picnic with your diocesan church family. By uniting our church members into a family we maximize our presence in this world and develop strength to tackle spiritual challenges as whole.

Overall, I see FYC as an essential component of my summer as it provides spiritual enlightenment and fulfillment. This year, the conference will be held from July 16-19 at The Lancaster Host Resort and Conference center. This year is sure to deliver on all of the vital aspects of FYC and the hard work of the committee members is sure to culminate in a successful conference.

Tags: MGOCSM, MGOCSM Alumni Network, MGOCSM Newsletter

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