Jesus gave St. Francis of Assisi the mission to “Go, rebuild my Church.” This was the major mission of the Encounter Houston Steubenville Young Adult Conference.
Adoration, relationships and a lazy river – these were some of the themes that young adults from around the country saw throughout the conference. Several young adults from the diocese also attended the conference at Houston’s Marriott Marquis Hotel.
The sessions at the conference ranged from best practices to help parish life as a young adult, to how to build meaningful relationships in today’s world. All of the sessions were designed so that the young adults could take the information back to their parishes and actually put what they learned into practice.
One such thing was how to respond to those who have questions about the Catholic faith in a way that is both informative and welcoming, as well as answering “I’m not sure, but I will find out and get back to you” whenever a question is too tough to answer.
“If you do not meet more than 10 people today, you did not get what you paid for out of the conference,” said Katie Prejean McGrady, one of the speakers at the conference. “I knew people in college that I thought I would have at my wedding. Now we don’t even speak. We have to be constantly building and putting effort into our relationships if we want them to last.”
Dan Harms, MC and speaker, talked about whether the attendees had a “parish or perish” situation in their hometowns. Many young adults echoed the same sentiment that seems to happen throughout many parishes – the lack of leadership opportunities for young adults and the resistance of established leadership to try new ideas.
Young adults also had the opportunity to attend reconciliation and Mass celebrated by Father Joseph Espaillat, youth director for the Archdiocese of New York. During his homily, he talked about how the Bible builds up every Sunday during the liturgy of the word at Mass. He said that if open to the idea, the Bible was more entertaining than Netflix.
“The Bible isn’t boring, you are bro!” said Father Espaillat, referring to those who do not participate in religious activities because they seem boring. He also joked that he may not be a superhero, but he would bring Jesus down on the altar in a couple of minutes – an allusion to the consecration of the Eucharist.