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2024 Breakout Sessions

More 2024 NCYC speakers and musicians are to be announced.
Stay tuned, and check back soon!

For more information and details on the speakers, musicians, and breakout session descriptions, times, and more, download the NCYC24 App!

More speakers and session details will be announced soon!

Breakout Session Speakers & Artists

Sr. Elfie Del Rosario, FMA

Andy & Sarah Swafford

Maria Parker

The Doug &
Dave Show

ValLimar Jansen

Armando Cervantes

Thomas Lyons

Gian Gamboa

Paul E. Jarzembowski

Adult Breakout Session Speakers

Speakers will be announced soon!

Beth Knobbe

Brenda Noriega

Dr. Julia Sadusky

 

Christopher Wesley

 

Breakout Sessions

Round A & D

Many teens report that they do not have friends or that it is difficult to trust friends. Many teens report feeling lonely and misunderstood. How do we build true friendship without filters, masks, and fear? This workshop will help you to be a good friend and build strong friendships around you.

Presented by: Katie Prejean McGrady

Music by: PJ Anderson

Emcee: Noelle Garcia

Sponsored by: EQ Saints

Have you ever felt like you were lost and aimless in life, experiencing a lack of meaning and purpose? So often in our attempts to find meaning in life, we look to things like pleasure, success, prestige, or relationships to be our ultimate source of fulfillment and happiness. True meaning, however, is received as a gift— a gift from the Lord who created us for a purpose. And authentic happiness is found only in making a gift of our lives in return. But to really live this out takes grit! In this talk, Dr. Andrew and Sarah Swafford will give practical insight on how to live with meaning, purpose, and grit, which can transform everything about our lives

Presented by:
Friday – Dr. Andy & Sarah Swafford
Saturday – Dr. Andy Swafford

Sponsored by: Benedictine University

Your parents, your teachers, your coaches, your counselor, even yourself- everyone has an opinion on what you should do with your life. How do you hear God’s call in all of those voices? How do you know when it is the Holy Spirit at work? Let’s explore how Scripture, Tradition and your own story helps guide you to a good call- a vocation- in living your life. 

Presented by: Craig Gould

Music by: Marie Miller

Emcee: Chika Anyanwu

Sponsored by: McGrath Institute at Notre Dame

Change can be scary. Whether big or small, changes in life can often cause fear, anxiety, and self-doubt. Learn 3 key ways to stay close to Jesus no matter what life throws at you, and get practical steps for leading with faith in every stage of life. If you’ve ever struggled with trusting God, living your faith boldly, or understanding how to grow in holiness… then this talk is for YOU. Join us as we learn how to live life to the fullest and become who God made us to be!

Presented by: Gian Gamboa

Dealing with racism in today’s world can be very messy, difficult and challenging. But in the mess, God calls us all to be more like Him. This workshop features a panel of young people taking you through a process to help break open the messiness of racism. The process will share how racism reveals itself in multiple ways, how different cultures may experience racism, and how to be anti-racist even in the most complicated of environments.

Presented by: Rudy Dehaney

Do you ever get distracted during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass? If so, attend this session to find out how to stay focus, grow in understanding the depths of the parts of the Mass, and be filled with knowledge of how to grow as a disciple of Jesus Christ in the highest form of prayer and encounter with the Lord. You will learn various forms of the liturgical theology of “why” we do things in our faith, but as well as, understand and obtain a deeper knowledge of how to be “distracted” in the right way during the Mass. This session will provide liturgical theology, spiritual exercises and fun activities, that you can relate to and live out on a day-to-day basis. Come as you learn to discover how you can grow in a deeper relationship in prayer with Jesus Christ during the Mass and strive to become a holy disciple of our Lord.  

Presented by: Fr. Paul Michael Piega

No family is perfect, but God is in control. This breakout session offers tips on how we can learn to communicate and share our faith with family members. While it might seem impossible to find common ground in the home, we will offer practical conversation starters and insights to help navigate through the difficult issues every family faces. While your parents might feel like it’s the end of the world and that you are an alien life form, and you may feel like there’s nothing you can say without it being misunderstood, we can find ways to love without judging and experience great hope in difficulties. The good news is that God is an expert in working with weird.

Presented by: Chris Padgett

Have you ever heard or asked, “How can we better accompany and support young Hispanic-Latin@ Catholics”? Let’s learn from those who are thriving and succeeding in their ministry with this important sector of the U.S. Catholic population. Brenda Noriega draws from her experience as a youth and young adult minister and more recently as a researcher working with Dr. Hosffman Ospino from Boston College. She will share insights from the recent report Ministry with Young Hispanic Catholics: Towards a Recipe for Growth and Success (2023). Whether you are an experienced minister with Hispanic-Latin@ young people or this is a new reality in your community, this workshop is for you! 

Presented by: Brenda Noriega

Excessive heat waves, wildfires, and other natural disasters are all exacerbated by the earth’s rising temperatures. Climate change affects all of us. As we experience the consequences of climate change in the United States, we also see a pattern across the globe — vulnerable communities who have contributed the least to climate change, are the ones impacted the most. Our faith calls us to act! Pope Francis urges us to “raise our voices to halt this injustice towards the poor and towards our children, who will bear the worst effects of climate change.” At Catholic Relief Services, our mission is to support vulnerable communities. By helping them adapt to the effects of a changing climate, we strengthen their resilience. Come meet some of your global neighbors through CRS and learn how you can mobilize your own community to address climate change, protect our planet, and contribute to a human family fully alive.

Presented by: Desire Finday Beth Knobbe

Sponsored by: CRS

Round B & E

Does God still work miracles? How does He answer our prayers today? How should we pray? Join Bishop Joe Espaillat for this powerful talk and time of prayer… and miracles!

Presented by: Bishop Joe Espaillat II

Music by: PJ Anderson

Emcee: Noelle Garcia

Sponsored by: EQ Saints

As we navigate the daily experience of desiring connection, encounter, and gratitude, we are often met with IMITATIONS of what is true, good and beautiful and struggle to see the Authentic; the REAL vs Imitation. Social Media seeks to meet these desires but often falls short and leads to more confusion to what is real in navigating our emotions and friendships. The beauty of our Lord and the Church is that He already holds the answer to it all…come and see.

Presented by: Kaitlin Byrne Sarah Kroger

Sponsored by: Lifeteen

What would it look like if our society was truly pro-life from the moment of conception to natural death? How can each of us become advocates for those who are most vulnerable in society at every stage of life? Join us to dig into Scripture and the Catechism to understand the Church’s teaching on a consistent life ethic and ways each of us can elevate our pro-life activism to more fully reflect the love of Jesus.

Presented by: Marcia Lane-McGee Shannon Wimp Schmidt

Music by: Gian Gamboa

Sponsored by: Loras College

We come to be the best version of ourselves when we exercise the virtue of humility. Many people view humility in a negative way. However, Jesus and the Saints have shown us that humility helps us to become our most free and authentic self. Attend this talk to discover a greater understanding of how to become who God meant you to be.

Presented by: Sr. Judy Marie Blizzard

Each of us are created uniquely for love.  How do we learn to live our path to holiness developing the virtues and encountering Christ along the way?  Living a virtuous life transforms you to be the person you were uniquely created to be, allowing you to develop the habit of seeing and choosing God and reflecting His love and goodness to others.  This is God’s plan for you now, and He gives you all the tools and graces to participate, grow, and, ultimately, live your vocation.

Presented by: Sr. Mercedes Torres

Have you ever been told that you need a prayer life but don’t know where to start or what to do? In this session, you’ll be given practical, hands on ways to start a daily, lived relationship with Jesus through prayer.

Presented by: Ali Hoffman

It’s easy to simply go through the motions at Mass. We stand, we sit, we kneel and we walk up to Communion and return to our pews. It can be easy to forget what a gift we have in the Mass and in the opportunity to receive all of Jesus in the Eucharist.

Is our “amen” true? Do we truly believe? Do we really become what we receive? Does it matter how we treat others?

Join creative evangelizers, Doug and Dave, for a fun and faith-filled experience you will not forget. Together, we will explore the incredible mystery of the Body of Christ through catechetical and comedic characterizations, inspirational storytelling and faith-in-action music. As Saint Paul reminds us, “It’s no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.”

WARNING: This workshop may provoke unexpected laughter, deep thoughts and prayerful music. The Doug and Dave experience may be filled with unpredicted twists and turns. Participants could come away shocked at how laughing and learning can go hand-in-hand.

Presented by: Doug & Dave Show

Scripture urges us to, “Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope…” (1 Peter 3:15). If your teens would dare to ask you, “why do you believe?” Would you know what to say? After this workshop, you’ll walk away with a good sense why we should share our personal faith story and how to practically do so so you can be ready when someone asks you your reason for your hope.

Presented by: Peter Burds

Sponsored by: NET Ministries

Every year 1 million young people are walking away from the Church. To change that trend we are going to have to start by changing our behaviors, attitudes, and approach towards ministry. Join Christopher Wesley in this workshop as we look at 7 discipleship approaches that will help your ministry efforts reach the next generation.

Presented by: Chris Wesley

Round C & F

Session C: I want to feel God. I used to feel close to Him. I don’t feel anything. How is God love if I don’t feel loved by Him? If this describes your religious experience, you are not alone. Many saints struggled with this, too. We will share some practical advice for what to do when you don’t feel anything in prayer, conferences, or even Mass.

 

Session F: NCYC is almost over. Time to dance, time to pray, time to rejoice, time to process, and time to rest. Come join us for this final workshop to soak in all the goodness of NCYC and get ready to take it home!

Presented by: Doug Tooke

Music by: PJ Anderson

Emcee: Noelle Garcia

Sponsored by: EQ Saints

In a world that constantly tests our mental and emotional resilience, it’s crucial to Realize With Your Real Eyes that you were “Made for This Moment.” This breakout session aims to blend faith and emotional intelligence, offering a fresh perspective on how to manage mental health while deepening your relationship with Christ.

As teenagers navigating complex emotions and societal pressures, you can wield your faith as a tool for mental well-being. This session will offer concrete steps to integrate faith into your mental health routine, engage in open dialogues with peers to break down stigmas, and recognize signs of mental health issues in those around you. Come discover how to be your most authentic self, rooted in Christ, and empower others to do the same. Let’s create a support system and community that celebrates both our shared faith and individual mental health journeys.

Presented by: Rhyan Ramirez

Music by: Josh Blakesley

Climate change affects all of us. As we experience the consequences of climate change in the United States, we also see a pattern across the globe — vulnerable communities who have contributed the least to climate change, are the ones impacted the most. At Catholic Relief Services, our mission is to support those vulnerable communities. By helping them adapt to the effects of a changing climate, we strengthen their resilience. Our faith calls us to act! As Pope Francis urged young people at World Youth Day, “It is very good that you want to change the world! The Church and the world need you, the young, as much as the earth needs rain.” Come meet some of your global neighbors through CRS and learn how you can address climate change, protect our planet, and contribute to a human family fully alive.

Presented by: Desire Finday Beth Knobbe

Music By: Iván Díaz 

Sponsored by: CRS

During the session you’ll have the opportunity to share and understand not only the joys, hopes, anxieties, and dreams – and the fundamental problems and issues (that keep people up at night) — of your existence but that of others in the community that will form during this hour.

We will create a symbolic soccer ball (“Pelota De Trapo”) made of old, weathered, and unused pieces of textile fabrics to represent the shared humanity that binds everyone and everything together.

In the end you will have experienced an encounter with others. And for our Holy Father, Pope Francis, this word is very important. Why? Because faith is an encounter with Jesus, and we must do what Jesus does: encounter others……with our faith we must create a “culture of encounter,”

Presented by: Maria Jose Mariano Manuel Deza Giustino

Sponsored by: Scholas USA

Many people believe the adage that religion and politics should always be separate. They mistakenly believe that a separation of church and state means that those who feel strongly about their faith and the impact that faith has on their lives should not enter into the realm of politics. This session provides information to debunk those beliefs. The Church and its faithful have a right and an obligation to participate actively in local, state, and federal government. Faithful citizenship is needed to uplift and uphold the respect for human life, to embrace solidarity, and apply subsidiarity. It is also needed to promote the common good, advocate for dignified labor, and steward the created world. This session seeks to empower current and future voters to rely on their faith to inform their view of political matters.

Presented by: Angela Espada Alexander Mingus

Sponsored by: Indiana Catholic Conference

Pope Francis says that young people are the NOW OF GOD, and I agree! Do you? Whether you are an experienced young leader or are still considering ways to be an active disciple in your community, this workshop is for you! Join us in dialogue and witness about the different ways young people like you are transforming our communities across the country and how they have been able to put their gifts and talents to the service of others, transforming their communities as young leaders today and paving the way forward. 

Presented by: Brenda Noriega & Young Adult Panel

Why is it so difficult to talk about faith, politics, and morality? Join us for a structured civil dialogue on some of the most challenging topics in the Catholic Church today. You will have the opportunity to discuss your own experiences, values, and faith in a safe and supportive environment. All are welcome to participate – we only ask that you bring an open mind and heart and are prepared to listen respectfully to others!

Presented by: Christina Leblang Kathryn Yanik

Sponsored by: McGrath Institute at Notre Dame

Increasingly, youth ministers and parents are being invited into the lives of young people navigating sexual orientation and gender identity questions. Too often, many adults feel ill-equipped to engage with young people in the changing landscape around sexuality and gender. Informed by Dr. Sadusky’s extensive work with LGBT-identified Catholics, this session will offer foundational information for ministers and adults around language and cultural shifts in recent years. It will also provide practical guidance to help you more effectively accompany youth who are exploring sexuality, gender and the intersection of these aspects of experience with their Catholic faith. 

Presented by: Dr. Julia Sadusky

We ALL belong to the Body of Christ, including our youth with disabilities, who need to be visible, present, and growing in faith in the life of the Church. Youth with disabilities are in extreme isolation; ministry leaders, we can make a difference by building a community that recognizes the dignity of each person and embraces one another as people of God.

In this session, we will provide tools to support youth ministry leaders to feel equipped to include youth with disabilities in activities and events, welcoming ALL in the church.

Presented by: Esther Garcia

On this Page

2024 Speaker

Sr. Elfie del Rosario, FMA

Sister Elfie Del Rosario, FMA, is known to many as “The Happy Nun.” Sr. Elfie was born in Nigeria and raised in the Philippines, where she attended college. Sr. Elfie eventually moved to New Jersey and applied her psychology degree to teaching children with special needs. She entered the Salesian Sisters in 2009 and currently serves as the vocations director for the Salesian Sisters of St. John Bosco, in the eastern province of the United States. Sr. Elfie takes her ministry seriously, even when it involves a dunk tank! Visit the Salesian Sisters online at www.happynun.com.

2024 Speaker

Andy & Sarah Swafford

Dr. Andrew and Sarah Swafford speak frequently across the country and around the world on dating, marriage, the moral and spiritual life, St. John Paul II, and Sacred Scripture. Together, they are authors of Gift and Grit: How Heroic Virtue Can Change Your Life and Relationships and cohosts of Ascension’s What We Believe: The Beauty of the Catholic Faith, filmed at over thirty holy sites in Rome. Andrew and Sarah live in Atchison, KS with their six children: Thomas, Fulton, Cate, Kolbe, John Paul, and Avila. You can find more information on their website: theswaffords.com.

2024 speaker

Maria R. Parker

Maria R. Parker, Ed.D., is the Assistant Director for the Laity at the USCCB in Washington DC and serves on the Board of Directors for the National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry.

2024 speaker

The Doug & Dave Show

Talented storytellers, musicians, and stewards of the faith, Doug Brummel and Dave Wilson have joined forces to create “The Doug and Dave Show,” an endeavor as fun and entertaining as it is faith-filled. Their unique style of creative evangelization and catechesis brings church teachings to life through original faith-in-action music, rich sketches, and quirky characterizations.

2024 speaker

ValLimar Jansen

ValLimar Jansen is an actor, playwrite, singer, songwriter and lover of theatre. ValLimar sings a wide range of music from spirituals to traditional organ-based choral music and has performed for NCYC and World Youth Day. ValLimar’s goal is to inspire a renewed, passionate love of our faith through song, story and movement. 

2024 speaker

Armando Cervantes

Armando Cervantes is the Director of Youth and Young Adults and Director de Ministerio Hispano for the Diocese of Orange and serves as a consultant to the USCCB Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth.

2024 Speaker

Thomas Lyons

Thomas Lyons is a Catholic speaker from Texas with a background in ministry, teaching, and public speaking. He also hosts the podcast Continuing the Call: A Seminary Dropout’s Guide to Discernment.

2024 speaker

Gian Gamboa

Gian Gamboa is a Catholic speaker and musician who helps young people develop a personal relationship with Jesus so they can experience the fullness of the Catholic faith. His life’s mission is to empower youth to become who God made them to be. He wants all people to encounter Christ and fall in love with Him so that “they may have life and have it abundantly!” (John 10:10).

Gian has given more than 1,000 talks in over 300 venues across the country. He loves to eat giant burgers, play basketball, and watch 90’s movies. Born in the Philippines, raised in California, but a Texan at heart — Gian lives in Austin, TX with his wife and two kids.

2024 speaker

Paul Jarzembowski

Paul E. Jarzembowski is the Associate Director for the Laity at the USCCB in Washington DC and serves on the Board of Directors for the National Institute for Ministry with Young Adults.

2023 Speaker

Beth Knobbe

Beth Knobbe serves as a Senior Trainer with Catholic Relief Services. She is a regular facilitator and workshop presenter for CRS Chapters and national conferences which seek to engage Catholic leaders in taking action that creates positive change for vulnerable communities around the world. Beth holds a Master of Divinity degree from Catholic Theological Union in Chicago. She is also a published author who writes about spirituality and the single life.

2023 speaker

Brenda Noriega

Brenda Noriega is a young minister committed to accompaniment and evangelization. She has been serving God’s people and influencing her community from an early age at the parish, diocesan, regional and national level. Brenda earned a Master’s Degree in Pastoral Ministries from the University of Santa Clara. Brenda collaborates in multiple national and international committees representing young people, including the International Youth Consultative Body for the Dicastery of Laity and Family Life. She is passionate about holistic and transformational ministry including life, dignity, justice, and mission. Brenda is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in Theology and Education at the School of Theology and Ministry in Boston College. 

2023 speaker

Dr. Julia Sadusky

Dr. Julia Sadusky is a licensed psychologist, consultant, and speaker. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Ave Maria University and a doctorate in Clinical Psychology from Regent University. Dr. Sadusky has done extensive research and clinical work on how sexual and gender identity development intersect with a person’s faith. She trains pastors, religious, and lay people around ministry with sexual and gender minority youth. She has written several books, including “Emerging Gender Identities: Understanding the Diverse Experiences of Today’s Youth” (Brazos Press) and “Start Talking to Your Kids about Sex: A Practical Guide for Catholics” (Ave Maria Press).  

2023 speaker

Christopher Wesley

Christopher Wesley, a husband and father of two, holds 19 years of experience in parish children and youth ministry. He established Marathon Youth Ministry, Inc. in 2016, to help ministry leaders rediscover their joy through coaching and cohorts. He has his MA in Pastoral Theology and is certified in MCODE™ certification, which helps leaders discover their personal vocation. Learn more about Christopher at https://marathonyouthministry.com. 

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2023 Host

Mari Pablo

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.

2023 Host

Sr. Josephine Garrett, CSFN

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. 

You will now be directed to NFCYM.ORG to complete registration.

ABOUT NFCYM

The National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry (NFCYM) is a membership organization dedicated to advancing the field of pastoral ministry to young people.

Members enjoy:

  • Professional training, resourcing, and support
  • Full access to our resources and webinars,
  • Special rates to NFCYM events, and more.

ABOUT NFCYM

The National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry (NFCYM) is a membership organization dedicated to advancing the field of pastoral ministry to young people.

Members enjoy:

  • Professional training, resourcing, and support
  • Full access to our resources and webinars,
  • Special rates to NFCYM events, and more.

You will now be directed to NFCYM.ORG to complete registration.

2023 Host

Mari Pablo

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.

2023 Host

Sr. Josephine Garrett, CSFN

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.