Steubenville conferences offer faith pilgrimage for high schoolers
By KATIE LEFEBVRE, Globe staff reporter
Attending Steubenville conferences has become a tradition for many youth groups in the diocese. The deadline for this summer’s Steubenville Conferences is quickly approaching. The registration deadline is Jan. 31.
Three separate groups from the Diocese of Sioux City are planning to attend the July 17-19 Steubenville St. Louis Mid-America Conference at Missouri State University in Springfield, Mo.
According to Mark Thomason, director of catechesis, evangelization and RCIA for the diocese, the Steubenville conferences have continued to grow and are now held all over the country, not only at Steubenville.
“It is an awesome summer pilgrimage for kids to get pumped up about their faith without having to go very far but also having to go somewhere,” he said. “There is something about going somewhere else that helps the journey of our faith. It is a good, holy adventure.”
Thomason wants to encourage groups who haven’t gone to the conference in the past to connect with one of the groups already going or decide to make their own pilgrimage.
“The conferences are a great way to get high school kids fired up,” he said. “I think you will see something new about your faith and learn about your faith in a new way. It is a good chance to take on your faith yourself. Kids in high school are adults. They need to start growing up.”
Thomason recalled his first experience going to a Steubenville conference, which was when he started working in the diocese. He traveled on a bus, which he said is a great part of the experience, with a group from the diocese.
“A whole part of it is the journey to the conference,” he said. “It is a strong tradition in our faith to be a pilgrim. This isn’t luxury. You are sleeping on floors and in buses.”
The attendance at each site varies from 1,200 to 5,000 per high school youth weekend. Close to 2,000 youth went to confession during the conference he attended.
At the conference, attendees will experience adoration, speakers, break-out sessions, testimonies, praise and worship, witnesses, Mass, confession, music, time for prayer and fellowship and entertainment.
“They have break-out sessions by gender, guys talk and girls talk, which I think is more and more important,” said Thomason. “It is pretty dynamic.”
According to the Franciscan University Youth Outreach Web site, “it’s a weekend to get rocked by God, to get serious about life in Christ and his church, and to learn the truth of the Gospel.”
He said that if any priests or seminarians would like to go, contact one of the groups.
“They always want priests to come,” said Thomason. “It is awesome for the kids to have a priest with them.”
Adult chaperones and group leaders must be at least 21 years of age.
The registration deadline is Jan. 31. For more information or to register, please contact:
Anyone interested can also visit the Diocese of Sioux City Web site, www. scdiocese.org, for more information. For information about other sites or about the conference itself, visit www. franciscanyouth.com.
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