By Martha Sandner
A projection on the wall of Farmington’s Civic Center announces the theme “Loving Mercy”, offering examples of the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy in action. Then, the countdown begins and the crowd of youth start to cheer in anticipation of the Southwest Catholic Youth Conference (SWCYC). Music comes to life over the huge stage speakers as Fr. Carl Wertin, the emcee for the day, comes out on stage – on a skateboard – and the crowd goes wild!
If you missed SWCYC, you missed the opportunity to see faith at its best – fully alive in the hearts of teenagers. Speakers Bob Rice, Lisa Cotter, and David Henrie used examples from their own lives and experiences mixed with a generous amount of humor, to drive home the point that faith, values, and virtuous living are still possible in today’s world. Bishop Berg, from the Diocese of Pueblo, and Bishop Wall from the Diocese of Gallup, spoke eloquently as the attendees listened intently and took to heart the hope, compassion, and love that were offered them by these leaders of their faith.
2016 marked the 5th annual SWCYC sponsored by LifeGuard of Durango. Through the efforts and generosity of many, hundreds of young hearts and lives are touched annually at this, the only large scale youth conference in the four corners area. St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Farmington generously opens their doors to those who come from great distances and need lodging. Knights of Columbus and Catholic Daughters step up to generously provide meals for the kids, as Chef Marc and Ann Weigel honor the Bishops, priests, speakers, and volunteers with a delicious meal. Generous donors sponsor tickets for those who would not otherwise be able to attend while other donors give to insure the success and longevity of the event. Dozens of volunteers sign up in advance, or show up on the spot, to do whatever is necessary throughout the day. There aren’t words to express our gratitude.
Faith is alive and well in the hearts of our youth. Please watch for SWCYC next October, sponsor a group, and experience this incredible event first hand. God is good – all the time!