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Virtual youth conference will be held Feb. 26-27

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A February tradition in the Diocese of Buffalo has been the annual Youth Convention. We all know that gathering 600 teens into a hotel for the weekend is not possible this year, so parishes have banded together to offer an alternative to help high school youth reconnect.

“Youth ministry by definition responds to the needs of young people,” explained Denise York. “The need of young people is to have some sense of normalcy in the midst of this pandemic. So, we’re having a virtual youth conference.”

With the theme of “Reconnecting” in her head, York, the director of youth ministry for Immaculate Conception Parish in East Aurora, wrote a grant for a two-day conference to be held via Zoom on Friday, Feb. 26 and Saturday, Feb. 27. Guest speakers include beatboxer Paul J. Kim who will welcome guests Friday night, and Doug Brummel and Dave Wilson, who bring the Doug & Dave Show on Saturday to amuse and inspire through music and characters. Breakout rooms will be available for teens to connect and talk to one another.

Bishop Michael Fisher will join the event with a Mass livestreamed from St. Joseph Cathedral Saturday at 4:30 p.m. Youth are encouraged to attend in person at the downtown church or virtually through http://www.youtube.com/SaintJosephCathedral.

Organizers have suggested that teens gather on Sunday via Zoom to share their thoughts and reflections from the presentations.

“During this year like no other we want to offer an opportunity for a diocesan youth gathering,” York said in her grant proposal to The Foundation of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Buffalo. “This is the first time in 69 years that our diocese will not have a diocesan youth convention. The pandemic is particularly challenging for high school youth because these are their four glory years of high school. They do not have the sense of time that adults do. So, losing their freshman, sophomore, junior or senior year is almost tragic for them. Offering this diocesan virtual conference provides an opportunity for some sense of normalcy and continuity.” 

When York proposed the idea to other youth ministers and young leaders, she found abundant interest with 23 parishes and 25 individual people jumping on board to help. Bishop Fisher agreed, just days after his own installation, to celebrate Mass for the event.  

This event is free and open to all high school youth. Parishes are encouraged to use the Zoom session as parish events where possible.

For more information, schedule and links visit https://icyouthea.org/event/reconnecting-virtual-diocesan-youth-conference/.

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