Teens urged to ‘be extra’ for Christ at conference

Teens listened to a presentation by Bryan Cain titled “How Can I Be Happy?” in a breakout session at the Archdiocese of Louisville Catholic Youth Conference Feb. 29 at the Flaget Retreat Center. (Record Photos by Jessica Able)

Dozens of teens took advantage of the extra day in February by gathering at the Flaget Retreat Center, 1935 Lewiston Drive,  Feb. 29 for the Archdiocese of Louisville Catholic Youth Conference.

The ArchlouCYC, for short, targeted teens in ninth- through twelfth-grades and challenged them to “be extra” intentional in their faith journey. The day-long retreat provided an opportunity for the high-schoolers to gather with their friends outside of school and church and to enter a more intentional dialogue about their faith, said Karl Dolson, director of youth and young adult ministry for the archdiocese.

Brian Greenfield, a national Catholic speaker and high school theology teacher from Tampa, Fla., delivered one of the day’s keynote addresses. The centerpiece of his talk echoed the day’s theme, “Be Extra.”

Greenfield said that God calls each of us to ‘be extra’ in our love for others.

“As Christians, especially as Catholics, we are called to be extra. If we are representing Jesus, how can we not be a little extra?” he asked.

Brian Greenfield, a national Catholic speaker and high school theology teacher from Tampa, Fla., spoke to teens at the Archdiocese of Louisville Catholic Youth Conference on Feb. 29 at the Flaget Retreat Center.

Now is not a time to fall back, Greenfield said. It’s a time to be seen and heard.

“The culture says it’s abnormal for you to be here today. Let me tell you something, the culture has lost its mind!” he said.

Today’s Catholics, especially young people, are tempted to simply be average, he said.

“The temptation today is to protect yourself and to hold back. But, we must put disbelief aside and be all here. Believe who Jesus said he is. That doesn’t happen by falling back, but by being extra,” he said.

God calls each person, Greenfield said, to put aside his or her ego and trust in him.

“Some of you here think there is no reason that you should be here, that you don’t belong. You are precisely who belongs here,” he said.

Erin Keil, a freshman at Oldham County High School, said she attended the day-long retreat at the urging of her youth minister at St. Bernadette Church.

“I was curious what the speaker would say. Usually the phrase ‘Be extra’ is thought of as negative, like you’re doing too much and need to chill out. But this emphasizes to be extra with God is not a bad thing, that you should be expressive about God,” Keil said.

At the end of his address, Greenfield encouraged the teens to think of one or two classmates that could use a prayer.

“Pray for one person that couldn’t be here today but wanted to be here. Sometimes people can’t pray for themselves, so we pray for them,” he said.

Following Greenfield’s talk, the day included another keynote presentation by Charlie Hardesty, director of youth ministry for the Diocese of Owensboro; breakout sessions; eucharistic adoration; Mass with Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz; and an opportunity for reconciliation.

The teens also took part in an outreach project, assembling more than 200 care packages for teens in foster care. They also created prayer cards to include in each bag and committed to praying for the teens during the Lenten season, said Laura Zoeller, associate director of the Office of Youth and Young Adults.

Destiny Morris, an eighth-grader at Western Middle School, and Jabriah Robinson, a sophomore at Sacred Heart Academy, spoke with Benedictine Sister Sarah Yungwirth, associate director of the Vocations Office, and Fermin Luna, a seminarian for the Archdiocese of Louisville, at the ArchlouCYC Feb. 29. Both teens attend Immaculate Heart of Mary Church.

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