Local teens lead Scripture reflection for 20,000 peers at NCYC

| December 4, 2019 | 0 Comments

St. Therese in Deephaven parishioner Emil Liden, left, and McKenzie Nguyen of St. Anne-St. Joseph Hien in Minneapolis lead a Bible study Nov. 22 at the National Catholic Youth Conference in Indianapolis with emcee Father Agustino Torres.

Teens and young adults from eight parishes in the Twin Cities spent Nov. 21-23 at the National Catholic Youth Conference in Indianapolis. And three of them spent about 15 minutes reflecting on Scripture before 20,000 of their peers.

“I thought it was really cool how it was kids who believe the same things I believe, which is hard to find sometimes,” said Viviana Gonzalez, who — with fellow St. Therese in Deephaven parishioner Emil Liden and McKenzie Nguyen of St. Anne-St. Joseph Hien in Minneapolis — was selected in advance of the youth conference to lead those gathered in Lucas Oil Stadium in a Bible study on Luke 24, where Jesus meets two of his disciples on the road to Emmaus following his resurrection.

The youths were joined on stage by another student and NCYC emcees Katie Prejean McGrady and Father Agustino Torres, a Franciscan Friar of the Renewal. Together they led small-group discussion for the students gathered in the stadium.

The youths prepared for a month to lead the conversations.

Liden called the experience “incredible,” and it inspired him to consider how he can be “a light” in his own parish and among his peers.

“They (NCYC leaders) asked how it connected to our own lives,” he said of preparing to share the Scripture passage. “I was able to take a step back and see how we can put ourselves in the shoes of the disciples and reflect on what God is saying in our own lives.”

He said that preparing for the stadium-wide Bible study made him take more time when reading Scripture and not look at what he reads only as a story, but rather as something that speaks to his life.

“They did just a beautiful job really pulling apart what the Scripture meant for them and how it made them feel, and how it made them recognize Jesus in their own journey,” said Amy Schroeder, who directs youth ministry and faith formation at St. Rita in Cottage Grove and who led the archdiocese’s group to NCYC.

She said she values the conference’s workshops, liturgies and speakers for being able to connect with students “who are just starting to meet Jesus” as well as those who are “trying to become saints.”

“It engages them where they’re at, but it doesn’t leave them there,” she said.

Bishop Andrew Cozzens joined the group of 121 youth and young adults from the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. They were from the parishes of St. Anne-St. Joseph Hien; St. Francis de Sales, St. Paul; St. Gabriel, Hopkins; St. Joseph, New Hope; St. Peter Claver, St. Paul; St. Rita, Cottage Grove; St. Stephen, Anoka; and St. Therese.

NCYC is organized by the National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry in Washington, D.C.

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