INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana — When Indianapolis Archbishop Charles C. Thompson thanked Los Angeles Archbishop Jose H. Gomez for celebrating the Nov. 18 closing Mass of the National Catholic Youth Conference, a cheer broke out from the Los Angeles youths in attendance.
And when he mentioned the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ meeting held in Baltimore some days before the youth gathering, that archdiocese’s contingent of teens shouted and clapped.
He proceeded to receive shouts and standing ovations when he thanked the National Federation of Catholic Youth Ministers, and then when he thanked the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, and then when he thanked all of the religious, deacons, priests and bishops who helped with NCYC, and then when he wished everyone safe travels.
Thompson just shook his head and laughed.
“A guy going to a Catholic wedding told me he didn’t know if he should wear a dress suit or a warmup suit because Catholics stand up and sit down so much!” he joked. And that line too received a thunderous standing ovation.
It was the kind of spirited joy that only 20,000 youths could exude at the end of the three-day NCYC gathering.
Not long before the revelry, the very same youths had knelt in solemn prayer after receiving the most holy Eucharist during the convention’s closing Mass in Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Thirteen bishops, including Thompson, concelebrated the Mass with its primary celebrant, Gomez, who wove into his homily another auspicious Catholic event that happened earlier that day.
“Blessed Solanus Casey was just beatified today in Detroit,” he said. “(God) gave him many gifts. He was a good listener, and he had a deep faith and deep heart for Jesus. He wanted above all to serve God.”
But that is not why the Capuchin Franciscan was beatified, said the archbishop. Rather, he was beatified “because he tried to serve God in every moment. … He used his gifts to help others.
“This is how God wants us to live, to make your whole life a life of giving,” the archbishop continued. “Try to do little things for God. Try to be a little miracle in someone’s life. Give hope. Yes, we can strive for holiness because it is … doing God’s will in the little things of daily life.”
Such was the message of the day’s Gospel reading from Matthew, he said of the parable of the servants and the talents.
“The parable of the talents is a plan for life,” Gomez said. “Jesus is talking to us about our relationship with God. How are we using the gifts God gives us?
“The words we hear in the Gospel from Matthew is what God wants for each of us: ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. … Come, share your master’s joy,'” he said.
The archbishop gave specific advice to help the youths do God’s will and to become holy: “The most important thing … is to pray.
“When I was your age, I made a decision … to spend some time in prayer daily, and it has made an extra difference in my life,” Gomez continued.
“If you make time for prayer every day, you will see a difference. … Listen to (Jesus), even for just a few minutes. … Be consistent. Do it every day. I promise you, if you spend time in prayer every day … you will start to see that Jesus is with you and how much he loves you.”
Elizabeth Murillo of the Diocese of Dallas, who attended NCYC for the first time, experienced such a moment earlier during the conference.
“One of the things that stood out to me is that someone said to let God speak to me, and (God) said to me, ‘You’re not alone, you have me. You can count on me anytime you want,'” she told The Criterion, newspaper of the Indianapolis Archdiocese.
Several youths cited the time adoring the Blessed Sacrament as a group of 20,000 teens Nov. 17 in the stadium as the NCYC moment that had the most impact.
“I’ve been to adoration before many times at different retreats,” said Elisha Mix of the Orlando Diocese. “But to see (20,000) youths adoring the Lord is something amazing.”
Daniel Linn of St. John the Evangelist Parish in Indianapolis agreed.
“I’ve never celebrated it that way before, with so many people being so sacred,” he said.
Overall, said Linn, NCYC was “just mind blowing. It was very powerful to see all these people come together and celebrate their faith together. The Church is a lot stronger than it seems in the world.”
Based on a comment he made in his homily, it would seem that Gomez agrees.
“You inspire us bishops,” the archbishop told the 20,000 youths. “You give us hope. The future of the church is in good hands with you.”
Hoefer is a reporter at The Criterion, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.