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Young people to attend WYD and Steubenville conferences

Young people in the archdiocese will travel near and far this summer to ignite their faith and experience the unity of the wider Catholic community.

A group of college students, young adults and others will travel to Krakow, Poland, to attend World Youth Day (WYD) July 25-31, and groups of high school students and this year’s graduates will travel to two Steubenville Youth Conferences – in Springfield, Mo., July 8-10, and Rochester, Minn., July 15-17.

Forty-six people, including clergy and other adults, will take part in WYD, said Katie Winkler, Totus Tuus coordinator for the archdiocese.

Departing July 25, the group will spend the week in Krakow, joining up to 3 million others for an opening Mass, prayer, music, catechetical sessions, eucharistic adoration, and an evening vigil and closing Mass with Pope Francis.

Then it’s on to Rome, where the group will spend another week of pilgrimage, including entering St. Peter’s Basilica through the Holy Door for the Year of Mercy, visiting other basilicas and returning to Omaha Aug. 6.

"Every pilgrimage gives us an opportunity to encounter the Lord and one another in a new way," Winkler said, "and Pope Francis’ coming to Krakow to be with us is such a great gift and encouragement to the church. I’m excited to see what great things God has planned for us during our time together."

Closer to home, about 540 people will attend the Steubenville conference in Springfield on the campus of Missouri State University, including priests and religious sisters from the archdiocese, said Jen Moser, coordinator of youth ministry with the Office of Evangelization and Catechesis.

With the theme, "Thirst," referring to Christ’s cry on the cross as a cry of thirst for souls, the conference features keynote speakers, prayer, music, workshops, small group sessions, eucharistic adoration and Masses.

"For many teens, the Steubenville conference fosters a personal encounter with Jesus that leads to genuine conversion of heart and a commitment to live one’s life as a disciple of Christ," Moser said. "It’s a real turning point for many of them that shapes major life decisions about friendships, lifestyle, college choice and vocations."

Groups are being organized in Norfolk, Columbus and Omaha for the Springfield conference, she said, with five buses leaving from Omaha, three from Columbus and two from Norfolk.

More than 150 people, including 125 youths, from St. Stephen the Martyr Parish in Omaha, St. Patrick Parish in Elkhorn and St. Charles Borromeo Parish near Gretna will attend the Steubenville conference in Rochester, said Laura Bogue, youth minister at St. Stephen.

The youths, along with deacons, youth ministry core team members from the parishes, parents and others will attend the 6:30 a.m. Mass July 15 at St. Stephen the Martyr Church before departing in three buses.

"It’s an amazing experience for the kids," she said. "It doesn’t matter where you are in your faith life – whether you’re struggling with your faith or really excited and super involved in your parish – there’s always something for everyone. It’s a way to help you connect to Jesus."

The 19 Steubenville conferences being held around the country are an outreach of Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio.

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