Coming from near and far, every delegation leader has their worries and concerns. Although we cannot promise we’ll take them all away, we hope maybe we can alleviate some of your worry with our experiences over the years and some new experiences we had preparing for this year’s NCYC in Indianapolis.
Marisally: Hello everyone! My name is Marisally Santiago coming to you from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.
Vicky: Hello! My name is Vicky Hathaway and I am the youth ministry consultant for the Diocese of Gary, Indiana. I myself have brought countless groups to NCYC but I remember when I brought a group for the first time! Marisally, I know you have brought a group before but also are bringing a brand-new diocesan group this year. What has been your experience at NCYC?
Marisally: When I was in the Archdiocese of Newark, I brought our parish group in 2019. It was the first time we brought a group. We had a great time bringing our youth core leadership team. Some of their moms accompanied us as well and they were greatly impacted. When we returned home the teens began to brainstorm what was the best way to bring their experience back and share it with others. How about you Vicky?
Vicky: I brought my own parish group in 2011. Our goal was to take our young people to something where they could experience the larger church, which I think we did a good job. It wasn’t as difficult because we’re only located 2 hours by bus from Indianapolis. Since then, I took my first diocesan group in 2019 but was lucky to have been mentored by the previous diocesan leader. It was helpful that someone mentored me into the diocesan delegation process. After taking on the role of the diocesan leader, it became a lot easier and more routine over the years to organize a group.
Marisally: Our office is 2 years old, and this is the first time in a long time that a delegation from our Archdiocese is attending. There was a lot of work that I had to do to build some excitement and awareness around what NCYC is. For two years, we did a local NCYC-like conference in Philly that was meant to be a “pilgrimage” step toward NCYC. It got people familiar with the format of NCYC and what it kind of entails.
Vicky: Is there anything that you have been dealing with in getting a group together?
Marisally: Luckily there are plenty of other diocesan and ministry leaders who have brought a group to NCYC. So, I have been using a lot of their resources instead of reinventing the wheel. A lot of leaders have freely given their materials, so it is just as easy as asking. They are always more than willing to help. It has been hard to ask the right questions if you do not know what to ask, so just perusing through all these resources gives you a start. So far, we have budgeted the project and created group leader information packets with all they need to know to prepare including prices and forms. Our next step is moving into the registration phase. What are some of the things that you didn’t realize were going to be difficult?
Vicky: We always start with price estimates and budgeting because the greatest concern is always the cost. What has helped me is always asking a ton of questions to clarify concerns. Of course, at the beginning you might not know exactly what to ask, but even the small questions about what you learn through reading other’s resources can be helpful. If you need to ask a question, you can always email [email protected]. Another great help is finding someone who can assist you with the paperwork or lead the delegation.
Marisally: I would agree, reaching out to others has been the most helpful thing. When you share your mission and “why” to others, it gets them to take ownership. I saw this happen with some people who have volunteered to help with paperwork and organizing. It also gets individual parishes really excited to fundraise.
Vicky: Another way to really equip parishes and smaller delegations is to give as much information as you can to parents. Parents might not be familiar with NCYC, so giving them packets with everything they need to know including stay, cost, safety, etc. has really eased their concerns.
Marisally: Parents, teens, and parishes also need a timeline because it outlines clear expectations for when the organizer expects information and payments to come in. In our packets, too, we also included fundraising ideas which I have found have been pivotal to the success of local fundraising. One last reminder is to never neglect the power of prayer. Create prayers for those who are going to NCYC but also for donors, parish congregations, and parents to pray for the teens who will be at NCYC. Prayer can play a huge role in helping parishes connect with NCYC and the youth. Another effective first-time tip is to focus on bringing your core leadership team to NCYC. When I brought mine, the teens were invigorated with the experiences and formation they got from NCYC. They kept asking how they could bring everything they learned back to the parish, and in many ways, they did.
Vicky: We also have a diocesan mass during one of the NCYC days to create comradery amongst our diocese and are so thankful to our bishop for participating. Our bishop even got to wear a silly hat! This also gives them a larger sense of church in their local region. My last tip is that you can always go to NCYC on your own to scope it out and meet other ministry leaders, like me and Marisally, who have been to NCYC before and can give you great tips when planning your first group!
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Mari Pablo is a proud Hispanic and cradle Catholic whose life was wrecked in the best possible way when she finally decided to stop fighting and surrender it all to Him. Mari has joyfully worked in youth ministry for over fifteen years, both as a youth minister and theology teacher, and as a presenter for Ascension Press. Mari has a deep love for food but an even greater love for Christ and is dedicated to helping others encounter Him.
Sister Josephine is a native Texan, raised baptist in Houston Texas. Jesus called her to religious life in 2011 and in 2020 Sister made her final vows as a Sister of the Holy Family of Nazareth. She ministers as a licensed mental health counselor, and also serves on the community vocations team and as a national speaker.
The National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry (NFCYM) is a membership organization dedicated to advancing the field of pastoral ministry to young people.