What is the name of the conference?
The name of the conference is, The Champions of the Tau Youth Conference, provides a great opportunity to come to know the real Saint Francis of Assisi. We see Francis of Assisi as the crossroads of the priority of the Sacred Liturgy, the mission of Evangelization and Social Justice. These aspects of the Catholic Church’s life, organically fit together in the teachings of the Church and the life of Francis.
As his life corresponds to the institute’s values, the Ministry Institute has a special affection for St. Francis of Assisi.
Francis is known for the Franciscan Cross, which is the Tau (a letter of the Hebrew Alphabet). It is a sign of marking in the Book of Ezekial and alluded to in Revelation. It was used in the preaching of Pope Innocent III at the Fourth Lateran Council because of its similar shape to that of the Cross of Christ. It was connected with the message of this pope and this council. Innocent III challenged those present to go out and be “Champions of the Tau.” It is believed that Francis was present and he went out, inspired, and used the Tau Cross as his own personal symbol. This shows Francis’ love for the pope, the Church and Francis’ life and writings show he greatly desired to further the mission of the Church.
We too desire to further the mission of the Church.
When is the youth conference?
July 29-31, 2016
Where is the youth conference held?
This youth conference will be hosted at the campus of Briar Cliff University in Sioux City, Iowa.
Is there an overall theme of the gathering?
The 2016 theme is “Instruments of Mercy.”
Pope Francis has asked us to be “Instruments of Mercy” in Misericordiae Vultus. The title also has an allusion to the prayer attributed to Saint Francis that begins with the call: “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.” This prayer was not written by Francis, as it is an early 20th century French prayer likely created as a devotion to be prayed at Mass, but its principles surely are found in his life and writings.
In this conference we will present this call to be Instruments of Mercy within a Kerygmatic context: Mercy and the Cross, Mercy and the Eucharist and Confession, allowing God’s Mercy to transform us and sharing this mercy with others by sharing our faith with others and standing up against injustice.
Why was the theme and talk subjects selected?
Like Francis of Assisi accepting the invitation of the pope of his time, we want to accept the invitation of our pope to rediscover mercy. Mercy, like the notion of love, is a word abused and robbed of its meaning. We wanted to challenge the youth and their adults to realize the radical nature of mercy, the inseparable relationship between the Mercy of the Cross found in the Church and that encountering God’s mercy moves us to be merciful to others.
Who is sponsoring this event?
The conference is organized and sponsored by the Ministry Institute and hosted by Briar Cliff University. The conference will take place on the beautiful campus of BCU. Briar Cliff University is known as the “Catholic Franciscan Learning Place.”
What grades is this intended for?
It is for youth currently in 8th-12th grade.
Is it intended for Sioux City Diocesan youth only … or who can come?
It is for youth from any diocese.
Who are your keynote speakers?
Our keynote speakers are local figures that embody the theme. We thought this was key to help this conference, built around the discipleship model made popular by YDisciple, focus on preparing the youth for life after the conference. We want them to take pride in their local communities and have local figures was important for this. We have a Franciscan Friar, a priest and some lay people who are known for their dynamic presence among youth.
What will the keynotes be discussing?
The keynotes will focus exclusively on the theme of mercy.
Will students have option for breakouts, too?
Each student will attend four breakouts. There will be numerous options for each breakout. There will also be four breakouts catered to the adult chaperons and parents. Examples of the youth breakouts: The Priesthood, Matrimony, Discipleship in a Relativistic World, Praying Well, The Secret of Confirmation, the Spiritual Meaning of the Parts of the Mass, Exorcisms and more.
Do students have to come with parish or school or can individuals come?
Youth can come in a parish or school group. Youth can also come as a family unit with a parent or parents. Youth need to have a chaperon/parent for not just liability reasons but also to work with the youth, to disciple them and help them go deeper in the months that follow the conference.
Why was it important for the institute to offer a youth conference?
This may seem strange because the Ministry Institute focuses on forming ministry leaders. The conference will include formation unique to the adult chaperons and this helps us accomplish our mission. But it also helps us answer the needs of so many Priests, lay workers and parents who want a local option, an affordable option, that will help the youth to not only have a good time but to be as excited about their parish or school or family formation opportunities. As one priest said to me, “my youth love going to Confession at their conference but I want them to know that the same Christ comes to them in Confession at their home parish.”
What do you think youth will walk away with?
I think it will be memorable, exciting and inspiring but more importantly we hope they leave with the tools to continue their formation to be lifelong Disciples of Christ with the help of their parents, clergy and teachers.
Any other pertinent details – cost, commuter/campus stay … so on?
Groups must first RSVP their spots as space is not unlimited. A registration packet is sent out once they reserve their group. These registration forms and $150 registration fee is due prior to June 30th. We encourage you to RSVP as soon as possible to be sure you are guaranteed a spot:briarcliff.edu/youthconference
The conference has several hours each day for groups or families to prayer together, discuss their current faith situation, plan for life after the conference, play sports or other fun activities.