It’s been several years since the Diocese of Phoenix has hosted a grand youth-oriented catechetical gathering. It’s never been held in two languages. Until now.
The diocesan Spanish family catechesis department, Catequesis Familiar, will host the first Youth Catholic Congreso to welcome teenagers and young adults from throughout the diocese and, hopefully, the greater community, organizers say. They’ll fill the north building of the Phoenix Convention Center June 12-14 for a series of talks, panels, Masses plus a concert and rally.
Organizers, who include young adults from several bilingual parishes, have been spreading the word via social media and parish contacts. They also created public service announcements in English and Spanish for local radio stations. Some even spent time at the Cinco de Mayo Phoenix Festival May 2-3 and other secular events in an effort to reach young Catholics who may not be active at their parishes.
“We want to ensure we’re not just reaching those already in youth groups. We all need hope. All young people need hope. It will help them see themselves in a new light,” said Stephanie Calleros, facilitator of catechesis at St. John Vianney Parish in Goodyear.
Carmen Portela, director of the diocesan Catequesis Familiar department, agreed.
Youth Catholic Congreso
When: 6:30-9 p.m. June 12; 7:30 a.m.-8:30 p.m. June 13; and 9 a.m.-5 p.m. June 14
Tickets: $10 for all three days
[/quote_box_right]She said the hope is to help Catholic young adults and teens personally encounter Jesus and to know Him better so they’re prepared to live a Catholic life in the 21st century. She plans to make the Congreso a recurring event that alternates every other year with the diocesan Congreso de Amor, Vida y Familia.
The Youth Catholic Congreso will feature both bishops of Phoenix, several local priests plus Fr. Stan Fortuna of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, who is known for his musical albums covering various genres. Youth can also expect a chastity talk from Corazón Puro, exhibit tables, Mass, a vocations panel that includes teenagers, and other resources to grow in their faith.
“God’s giving us the opportunity to bring something new to the table,” said Kevin Gonzalez, one of the organizers and a member of St. Jerome and St. Matthew parishes. He noted that the young English- and Spanish-speaking Catholic communities have been asking why the two weren’t brought together for an event yet.
José Cortez from St. Anthony Parish agreed. He said they felt the need for something to happen and is excited for the opportunity to connect with God and the greater young Catholic community of the diocese.
Portela said the Youth Catholic Congreso will be time and money well-invested. It’s only $10 for all three days, which she said is a huge benefit for the teachings participants will hear and time with like-minded youth they’ll experience.
“Every person is born with a mission. God didn’t make us to do nothing. Our job is to find it,” Portela said.
She hopes the Youth Catholic Congreso furthers local Catholic teens and young adults toward their mission from God. Some parishes like St. Mary in Chandler already have 100 youth registered.