Nearly 300 youth from across Alberta gathered at Aldergrove Elementary School in Edmonton for the Youth for Christ Regional Youth Conference on March 24.
Youth for Christ, a Family Ministry of Couples for Christ, holds Regional Youth Conference once a year. The RYC is all about depicting God’s love, according Evony Evangelista, a Youth for Christ lay missionary from Calgary.
“One of the main reasons we host this event is to allow youth to share stories about their faith,” Evangelista said. “Youth sharing to youth is powerful; you never know how or who a story can affect.”
The conference theme was “I Declare”, a reference to 1 Timothy 6:12: “Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.”
The participants were reminded of their call to boldly profess their faith wherever they go in their thoughts, words, and actions. All RYC’s pastoral sessions, personal testimonies, praise and worship, exhorted the gathered youth to continue fighting “the good fight of faith”.
Celine Berdin, a Youth for Christ member from Calgary, said the RYC is something she always looks forward to.
“I attend RYC every year because there’s always a different experience and a different message the Lord is trying to tell me each year.”
Conference delegates reflected on the theme of declarations of faith through creative competitions. Performances ranged from youth band medleys of secular and Christian music, original dances, photography, videography, and original poetry.
Father Jojo Cantal celebrated Mass, and encouraged youth to share their experience at the RYC. Father Adam Lech of the Archdiocese of Edmonton celebrated the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
Cardinal Thomas Collins of the Archdiocese of Toronto extended his personal greetings and assurance of his prayers to delegates via video.
“Each one of us is called to declare that Jesus Christ is Lord,” Cardinal Collins said. “We should do that through our words and always through our lives.”
The first session entitled “I am God’s Beloved”, reminded delegates of their true identity as sons and daughters of God. It sought to empower participants to recognize the four cardinal virtues as tools people can use on their faith journey. The talk was led by Evony Evangelista and Niccolo Arboleda, Edmonton lay missionary for Youth for Christ.
“With God’s help, we can build ourselves as people with solid character purified with grace in our habitual practice of good,” Evangelista said.
Father Jhack Diaz of the Diocese of St. Paul led the second session entitled “I am a Catholic.” He reminded everyone of the precepts of the Church, the powerful potential the sacraments have, and that membership in the Catholic Church is not just a belief but a lifestyle.
“This is the exact Church that Jesus Christ started and sent the Holy Spirit to guide,” Father Jhack said. “It’s unique. It is original. It is full of mystery and beauty.”
An empowering rally concluded the festivities. Led by Adam Lachacz, a Youth for Christ leader from Edmonton, the session reminded everyone gathered of their universal call to sainthood and that faith requires action.
“Our faith is a gift,” Lachacz said. “We do not declare to the world because we are better than the world. We declare for we have an incredible gift to share to everyone: our faith.”
-Adam Lachacz is a leader of Youth for Christ in Edmonton