“Go Beyond your Comfort Zone”
A thousand teens from across the Archdiocese had an opportunity to break out of their comfort zone at the 37th annual CYO Youth Conference. First, let’s take a moment and acknowledge the enormity of this. Getting a teen to commit to a 48 hour conference to focus on their faith in their super packed schedule is a great feat. Second, having something like this happen in our back yard is equally astounding. Very few dioceses are able to pull this off, with a 37 year history, and, instead, have to rely on the national conference which includes great travel expense. Third, it was a superbly organized event, carried out by a teen leadership team. If you have a high school teen who did not attend, they really missed out on an opportunity.
I was honored with the request to present a module on Anxiety and Depression among teens. I over prepared and adequately stressed out about the presentation for weeks, learning that all we are doing to make our teens happy, is often setting them up for disappointment. Thankfully, I was well prepared for what came up in the module, except the moment that I selected a colorblind teen to read a script where the parts were divided by brown and green colors. The one thing that shocked me was when 2/3 of the teens present admitted to being in therapy or knowing a teen in therapy. I really thought that number would be much smaller. At the same time, I was glad, because if someone is suffering, they should seek professional care. It makes no difference whether the pain is mental or physical. Conversely, if I polled parents of the same teens, I could guarantee almost no one would raise a hand. Over 130 teens selected this workshop. It was the most requested topic, even beating out “Sex and Sexuality.” I think that should tell parents and grandparents something. Visit Mayoclinic.com for a great resource for signs of anxiety and depression among teens. Keep these teens in your prayers.
The Conference experience is something similar to what Peter, James and John experienced when they witnessed the Transfiguration. Teens sat through keynotes where they walked through their lives with Jesus. They prayed with Him in adoration. They felt His mercy in reconciliation. They encountered Him again in the Eucharist and they danced and sang their hearts out in a display of united happiness. Just like Peter, they wished they could camp out in this spot and enjoy it longer. And just like Peter, James and John were sent down from the mountaintop, so to were our teens sent out into the world to get to work. If you read on in the Gospel account they encounter a possessed boy on the mountain and Jesus heals him. It is my hope that our teens and the teens who attended my module, entered back into their worlds, filled with compassion for those who suffer. And I hope you will pray with me, that those teens enduring the pain of mental illness will deepen their trust in God through prayer and grow stronger. It was that same trust that Jesus required to heal the possessed boy.
Thank you to the parish, for supporting our ministry to the youth, making this conference affordable. Thanks to Fr. Kevin for seeing us off with a special blessing with a unique sprinkling rite. Thank you to the parents who encouraged their teens to attend. Thank you to the teens who did some evangelizing and brought others. And a personal thanks to the Holy Spirit, who was with me during my presentations. I could not have done that on my own.
- Paul Pyrkosz