By Adam Lachacz
Western True North Conference Program Head, CFC Youth for Christ

Members of the lay Catholic charismatic youth group, CFC Youth for Christ, experienced the Lord in a special way in a packed gymnasium at the University of Alberta.

From July 14 to 16, nearly 400 youths from British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba, participated in Youth for Christ’s Western True North Conference (WTNC), an annual conference organized by the Youth for Christ Ministry of the Couples for Christ Edmonton.

It was a weekend that dynamically highlighted the theme of “Solid Ground” through adoration, Mass, praise and worship, pastoral sessions, hands-on workshops, and competitions.

“As a community we come together from different regions in Canada in order to celebrate God’s goodness along with our global community,” said Niccolo Arboleda, a full-time pastoral worker from Edmonton and one of the event leaders.

The WTNC is Youth for Christ’s response to St. John Paul II’s call to New Evangelization.  Every year, the conference aims to reinvigorate youth in their personal journey toward Christ while showing them the greater community they are a part of. The conference rotates on a yearly basis from a national to western or eastern Canadian level.

“Knowing I am not alone is important,” said Abby Bugayong, a youth delegate from Edmonton. “Faith is so much easier if I have people around me practising it as well.”

The event’s theme, “Solid Ground,” is taken from 1 Corinthians 16:13-14.  All elements of the conference, whether praise and worship or workshops, further explained the verse and its relevance in our daily lives.

Mass was celebrated each day to highlight the importance of the sacraments as sources of grace within Catholic life. Masses were celebrated by Father Jojo Cantal, Father Nilo Macapinlac with Father Roger Niedzielski, and Father Adam Lech, chancellor of the Archdiocese of Edmonton. Adoration was celebrated on Friday and the sacrament of Reconciliation was offered on Saturday to help delegates reignite their relationships with Jesus.

“We need the spiritual nourishment of the Word of God,” said Father Adam. “The heart pumps if it has food for nourishment. Our soul requires nourishment as well.”

The first session, “Homecourt,” introduced the idea of the Church as a source of strength within our society. Led by Shayne Funcion, a full-time pastoral worker for Youth for Christ based in Vancouver, the session ensured participants realized that there is only one holy, Catholic, and apostolic church founded by our saviour Jesus Christ Himself.

“The Jesus Christ we experience today is the same exactly as the one St. Peter interacted with,” said Funcion. “He is also the same as the Holy Eucharist we encounter at Mass.”

The second session, entitled “Squad Goals”, focused on the incredible gift of family. Led by Vincent Salmon, Couples for Christ national coordinator for Youth for Christ, the session allowed youth to see that there is no truly perfect family. Despite the imperfections, family is what acts as our foundation and always offers us authentic love.

“Our family is our first blessing from our God,” said Salmon. “We should treasure it and spend time with each member.”

The third session, called “One Team, One God”, reminded delegates of the essential role community plays in building faith. “Living our life for the Lord is true freedom; the ultimate affirmation,” said Niccolo Arboleda, who was the session leader.

Many delegates participated in Creative Competitions including band, spoken word, most valuable photograph and original songs. The Sports Competitions allowed youth to showcase their God-granted athletic abilities while competing in a fun atmosphere. Volleyball, ultimate Frisbee, soccer, three-point basketball, and dodgeball were just a few of the sports played. The Fun Competition helped delegates experience fellowship as they competed in Wii Olympics, an Academic Bowl, and a friendly tug of war.

While the Western True North Conference was only a weekend, it was a stepping stone in each participant's journey toward sainthood. More information is available at www.cfc-edmonton.ca.