Please read below what Youth Group Advisor, Jennifer Black Bear shared with us on their recent adventure:
"We were so blessed to be asked and encouraged to apply for scholarships to attend the National Catholic Youth Conference 2019 by Fr. Michael Carson, Assistant Director of Cultural Diversity in the Church for Native American Affairs, USCCB and Fr. Henry Sands, Executive Director of Black and Indian Missions. Our youth were awarded the scholarships to pay for their registration and rooms. The National Catholic Youth Conference (NCYC) is the national gathering of Catholic high school age youth in the United States. More than 20,000 young people and their chaperones travel from all over the country to attend this event. The theme for this years event was "Blessed, Broken, Given." Our youth were part of a diverse group that attended this year representing their tribe, culture and faith. There were other groups from Honolulu, HI, New Orleans, LA, Chicago, IL and many other states in their session. There were many break out sessions including one by Jesse Manibusan, who our youth met in Pine Ridge last year. It was about being called to welcome and celebrate the beautiful diversity of our church. There were other sessions on Racism: what can we do about it?, Rock your day with the Eucharist, The church is listening, so talk to us, Peer to peer Evangelization, and many more. We had a great time at the NCYC in Indianapolis, IN. The youth participated and came out of their shells. They were part of the diversity youth forum on Friday. There were Bishops who took part and were there to listen to their concerns, which was a great opportunity for the youth. We met Bishop Donald Kettler from MN who worked in SD for years. He sat at the table with the youth and asked them questions about the church. One of our youth talked about how great our church St. Charles Borromeo was! They also met Archbishop Christophe Pierre, he is the Apostolic Nuncio for the U.S. Our youth asked him questions about talking with Pope Francis and other questions. The youth did great. Maleah and Ashuan were asked to help leading in prayer and they did it. They came out of their shells. They participated and met other youth. They expressed their opinions and shared ideas. It was an awesome experience for our youth group!
We did take some time to see the city. We stopped at the Soldiers and Sailors Monument, the elevator wasn't working and we climbed the 368 stairs to the top. Great view of the city. We stopped to eat lunch at the mall and the youth asked to take a picture with Santa! On Saturday evening we took them to an NBA basketball game. They saw the Indiana Pacers play against Orlando Magic! The pacers won! We want to thank Winnie Hairy Shirt, Mona Swimmer and Wiconi Kills Warrior for their donation, with the donation we were able to go to the game!
We met one other native youth from Chicago, IL, her name was Peji Hotan Wiyan, she has family from Rosebud. She attended with her Aunt Lisa Franqui, who the youth were able to meet too! Lisa was the co-chair for the Tekakwitha Conference this past summer. She said she recognized the youth name, and some of them from the conference.
Overall I think the youth had a great time! They met a lot of people, saw many, many other youth who are Catholics like them and believe in their faith. It was a great experience for Ben and I to take them to be a part of the conference. We have to thank Ben for driving us there and back safely! Thank you to the St. Francis Mission for supporting our work with the youth!"