Catholic leaders meet with teens to discuss faith, life at Archdiocesan Youth Conference in Houston

July 21, 2013 9:11:12 PM PDT
Catholic leaders gathered in Houston on Sunday to focus on the future of their faith.

They met with thousands of local high school students to discuss religion and teens' real-life struggles.

It was a mass unlike any other in the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston with parishioners from all over the region and young faces in every seat.

"We have different experiences, but we definitely all come together. We do know that Christ is always with us, through thick and thin, no matter what," young Catholic Angelica Hernandez said.

Throughout the weekend, more than 2,200 youth gathered in downtown Houston for this year's Archdiocesan Youth Conference.

"It's our friends. It's the people who we grew up with," attendee Hilario Lumberas said. "And more than likely they're the people that we can go to with our problems and they can relate to us. They know our experiences that we're going through."

It's a celebration of their faith, and a chance to learn how to live it and share it -- what Cardinal Daniel DiNardo describes as "positive energy for the gospel."

"They're upbeat; they're enthused, but not thoughtless," Dinardo said. "I noticed in terms of even our celebration this morning, the moments of intense silence, quiet and attentiveness."

The closing mass Sunday morning was the end to a weekend of talks about their real-world issues, from peer pressure and sexuality to immigration. The cardinal calls it ministry "with youth and for youth."

"When they come here and see other young people enthused about their faith, it's a great source of support," DiNardo said.

That's exactly why these youngsters seem to take so much away from the conference.

"That's a crucial component of what really makes this work," Lumberas said. "And it's because of the love that we're able to give to each other."

This was the 57th year the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston has held the youth conference. Organizers say it's the largest gathering of its kind in the U.S.

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