European Catholic Youth Conference (ECYC) Builds Faith Among Teens in U.S. Military Families

160 from bases in four European countries join four-day celebration

SCHOENSTATT, GERMANY – Adolescence is a time of much growth and development under the best of circumstances. For an American teen living in Europe with a parent in the United States military, the distance from home, friends, and culture can make the spiritual journey even harder. The constant presence of faith and family, however, helps young people in military-connected families to find strength in these transitions and their ongoing faith development. That’s where the European Catholic Youth Conference (ECYC) comes in. Every other year or so, the Archdiocese for the Military Services (AMS) partners with the National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry and Military Community Youth Ministries to sponsor the ECYC.

This year, a delegation of 160–mostly high school age children of Catholic U.S. military personnel based in Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Turkey, along with their adult leaders–attended the ECYC, marking its 10th anniversary, August 10-13 in Schoenstatt. During the four-day conference, the young people engaged in a lively schedule of faith-building activities—adoration, a rosary prayer walk, and celebration of the Eucharist, to name a few. The keynote speaker, Catholic catechist, musician and entertainer Jesse Manibusan, exhorted the teens to cherish the importance of heroic presence, gratitude, hospitality, community, celebration and humility. Mr. Manibusan stressed the spiritual value of “being yourself, who God created you to be, in order to serve others with decency and dignity.”

His Excellency, the Most Reverend Timothy P. Broglio, J.C.D., Archbishop for the Military Services, attended the conference in person, taking part in a teen-and-priest panel discussion and interacting with the youths throughout his visit. In a homily before celebration of the sacrament of reconciliation, Archbishop Broglio juxtaposed God’s power to heal sinners with the story of a musician who, while carrying a prized Stradivarius violin, tripped and dropped the instrument, shattering it to pieces. A master craftsman painstakingly reassembled the violin, and it played once again with all its splendor. Archbishop Broglio pointed out that Almighty God gives us all the talent and tools so that sinners can be restored and the world renewed.

At Sunday Mass, Archbishop Broglio encouraged the young people, above all, to rejoice in the presence of Jesus Christ. He said being with them gave him great hope for those who will lead the church in the future.

The AMS was created as an independent archdiocese by Pope John Paul II in 1985 as the only Catholic jurisdiction responsible for endorsing and granting faculties for priests to serve as chaplains in the U.S. military and VA Medical Centers. AMS-endorsed chaplains serve at more than 220 U.S. military installations in 29 countries, making the AMS the nation’s only global archdiocese. AMS-endorsed chaplains also serve at 153 VA Medical Centers throughout the U.S.

The AMS service population also includes American Catholic civilians working for the federal government in 134 countries, but currently, due to limited resources, the AMS cannot adequately serve this population.

Worldwide, an estimated 1.8 million Catholics depend on the AMS to meet their spiritual and sacramental needs.

For more information on the Archdiocese for the Military Services, visit www.milarch.org, the only official Web site for Catholics in the military and for the Cause of Father Vincent Capodanno, M.M.