WASHINGTON (September 22, 2005)—The Catholic Youth Foundation, which works in conjunction with the National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry (NFCYM), is urging all dioceses and parishes participating in the 2005 National Catholic Youth Conference (NCYC) to reach out and help young people from the Gulf region who now find they cannot attend.
Originally about 600 participants were slated to attend the Atlanta conference, October 27-30, but only a fraction of that number can attend now. A total of 18,500 participants are expected at the conference.
The Catholic Youth Foundation USA, working through the National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry, is networking dioceses and parishes to aid Gulf region young people who have had to drop out of the conference because of the economic hardship brought on by the storm. Parishes and dioceses are being asked to assist these young people by sponsoring at least one person from the Gulf Coast.
Sponsors are asked to give $500 to cover the cost of registration, housing, and a portion of travel and/or meal money for an individual going to the biannual meeting. The directors of youth ministry in the affected dioceses will distribute financial resources to their NCYC delegations. These delegations include young people who have been re-located to other cities as a result of the hurricane.
Bishop Dennis M. Schnurr, chairman of the U.S. Bishops' Subcommittee on Youth and Young Adults, praised the effort by the NFCYM.
"We all want to help people whose lives have been turned upside down by Hurricane Katrina," he said. "We especially want to help young people bring order back to their lives. Being able to attend the conference that these teenagers had planned on for many months will help them get their lives back to normal. Being together with their fellow Catholic teens from all around the country will demonstrate dramatically how real the Catholic community is for them. It also lets the youth who contribute to helping their fellow youth in states far away know what solidarity can mean to everyone."
NFCYM cited requests for aid. One parish, St. Alphonsus in Ocean Springs, in the Diocese of Biloxi, has seven delegates. Greg Miller, the youth minister there lost everything. He walked into the diocesan youth ministry office one week after the storm and begged officials not to cancel their participation in the NCYC convening. He felt that the young people will need the NCYC experience to help them cope with what has happened on the coast.
"By God, Mississippi will be in that dome and we will have shoes on, we may not know whose shoes we will be wearing but we will have shoes on," Miller said. That was the main reason Biloxi officials asked for assistance for their young people.
Dioceses and parishes are asked to email CYFUSA at Katrina@nfcym.org with the number of pledges by October 8 at the latest. The Federation will contact the Gulf coast dioceses with the number of pledges available and distribute the finances. Checks should be made payable to CYFUSA, 415 Michigan Avenue, NE, #40, Washington, D.C. 20017.