By Tim Harfmann
Steubenville NYC is a conference designed to deepen relationships with Christ.
About 2,000 teenagers and young adults from across the United States spent the weekend at Saint John’s University.
One group traveled over 4,000 miles from Alaska. They said the event made them feel like they belong to the universal Church.
“It’s such a fulfilling moment. You come here and just get to let everything out,” said Natalie Malone, a member of the group from Alaska. “You don’t feel pressured, and you don’t feel anxious that everybody’s going to be looking at you because you know that everyone around you is feeling the same thing you are.”
The conference is a collaboration between the Brooklyn diocese, Rockville Centre diocese, Archdiocese of New York, the Franciscan University of Steubenville and Life Teen — a movement to encounter Christ.
“We come to the table of the Lord, He nourishes us, and then we have to go forward and find where we can make a difference in the world,” said Father Rick Martignetti, one of the weekend’s guest speakers. “So, instead of staying outside and criticizing the Church, I encourage them to be a part of it and use your gifts to make it better.”
Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio celebrated the closing Mass on July 21 and told the congregation he chose to wear vestments from this year’s World Youth Day with Pope Francis, the international gathering of young people in Panama.
“When they come together and see other people of their age that have faith, that encourages them. That’s what the Church is about. We encourage one another. We just don’t go to God alone, we go as a community of faith,” said Bishop DiMarzio.
Encouraging one another at a time when, teens from Brooklyn and Queens say, their Catholic faith could be challenging.
“It is, honestly, beautiful because you would think the youth wants nothing to do with God, and it’s really amazing to see young people worship God,” said Nichelle Leon, a parishioner at Blessed Virgin Mary Help of Christians Church in Woodside, Queens.
“Sometimes you question your faith and coming here actually helped me think about my faith,” said Yazdani Trujillo, a parishioner at Saint Michael’s Church in Sunset Park Brooklyn. “[It] actually made me feel closer to God and knowing I do belong, it made me feel good and it was a good experience.”
They said they’re now inspired to go out and strengthen the future of the Church.