News: 500 youth preparing to hit the road for NCYC next month

October 15, 2019

NCYC attendees

Next month will see 500 diocesan youth from 38 parishes in our diocese off to Indianapolis for another National Catholic Youth Conference. 

Held every two years since 1983, NCYC draws more than 20,000 teens from around the country for three days of celebrating and growing in their Catholic faith.  

Randy Henderson, who has been leading pilgrims to NCYC from Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart in Ankeny since 2007, has “found that the experience has unlocked many doors for those who attend,” whether teens or adult chaperones. 

“[They] often need what we all need: permission and encouragement to go deeper in one’s prayer life, to live more generously in service to others, and to preach the gospel of good news by living a life that is contagiously authentic,” he said.

Past pilgrims to NCYC from OLIH have called it “life changing,” “a great experience,” and the sort of thing that “made my faith new again.”  

Stories of faith in Christ being renewed by NCYC participation abound throughout the diocese. 

Jackson Finnegan, a parishioner at Our Lady of the Holy Rosary in Glenwood, attended in 2017 and will be going again this year. 

For him, keynote speakers at NCYC such as Chris Stefanick were impactful. 

“I hadn’t really felt very strong in my faith before NCYC,” he said. “But after hearing speeches like Chris’ I felt closer to God and I haven’t really lost that since.  My faith is a lot more evident in my daily life and I have more trust in the Lord.” 

As studies on youth and religion continue to point towards alarming trends ­-- such as nearly a third identifying as religiously unaffiliated and an average age of 13 for this disaffiliation to begin -- experiences like NCYC continue, and stories like Finnegan’s are told to affirm and encourage young people in their faith.  

This year’s theme for the conference is “Blessed, Broken, Given; Bendito, Partido, Entregado.” More information on the Des Moines diocesan pilgrimage can be found at