Nearly 1,000 students from schools and parishes across the diocese participated in the 2015 Diocesan Youth Days, which ran this year from Oct. 13-17. The Office for Catechesis, Ministry to Youth and Young Adults, sponsors Youth Days.
This is the sixth year that Associate Director Kyle Holtgrave has organized and hosted the event, which began in Springfield and has branched out and grown over the past several years. It is offered over the course of several days and each day of the week a different region of the diocese hosts a gathering at a local school — or in Quincy at the Convention Center — for a day-long retreat.
Area elementary schools bring students from the upper grades in for the day and the local Catholic high school students are invited to help as group leaders. Schools split up their students so they meet people from the other schools.
"The main theme for the day is discipleship," said Holtgrave. "The participants are invited to embrace their role as young disciples by meeting new people, trying new activities and being more aware of the needs of others around them.
"Through icebreakers, team building and group discussions, the group learns how they can be Christ for others in big and small ways," he said. "By the end of the day, everyone is challenged to continue growing in relationship with each other and with Christ."
Rich Curran of Parish Success Group was the main facilitator for the Youth Days. "Rich facilitated each day, allowing us a chance to take time away from our daily routine to focus on our relationship with Jesus Christ and how we are developing as Catholics," Holtgrave said. "Students spent the day practicing some of the skills and behaviors of a disciple they have been learning over the years."
Holtgrave noted that throughout the day the students were challenged to identify and articulate ways they are doing well as disciples, and also recognizing areas they need to work on in relationships with each other and with Christ.
Plans are already in motion to have another week in the fall of 2016 for Diocesan Youth Days, probably in early November. The schedule will also include an evening event for students who cannot participate on a weekday.
For more information on Youth Days or other youth-related events, contact Kyle Holtgrave at (217) 698-8500, ext. 154 or email .