| UST Alumni Head Youth Conference |
It has been more than 10 years since Evan Psencik ’09, MATS ’11, first attended the Archdiocesan Youth Conference. Now, all these years later as the associate director in the Office of Adolescent Catechesis and Evangelization in the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston he is on the other side serving as the assistant conference coordinator for production. He, along with St. Thomas alumna Norma Torok ’13, have worked hard to ensure the conference grows and continues to reach more students in the archdiocese.
“It has been a blessing to be part of the planning and coordination of the conference for the past two years,” Psencik said. “We have seen the conference grow in many ways over the past two years.”
The most noticeable growth is in attendance, which grew from 1,200 participants five years ago to more than 2,500 this past year. Of the 146 parishes in the archdiocese, 93 brought youth to the conference.
Psencik, who earned his bachelor’s degree in theology and master’s degree in theological studies, has been able to synthesize what he learned in the classroom and present it for the benefit of the youth.
“Too many young people feel like they are the only ones who are Catholic in their schools,” Psencik said. “Through this weekend they get to see 2,000 other young people just like them who are also Catholic and they can celebrate that faith together. It is a lot easier for young people to live out their faith as Disciples of Christ when they don’t have to do it alone.”
St. Thomas sent student representatives to the conference to show students how the University allows students to grow in their faith while serving the community. Along with universities, religious orders and missionary opportunities, non-profit organizations have a presence at the conference.
With workshops, dynamic keynote speakers and musicians students learned skills toward living their faith amidst the cultural distractions surrounding their daily life. They were reminded of the richness of the Church that supports them in their spiritual and sacramental life.
Torok’s involvement with the conference can be traced back to 1996 when she was in her early years of youth ministry. She has been part of the planning process since joining the Office of Evangelization and Catechesis in 2008.
While at St. Thomas, Torok learned more about the truths of the faith and gained the skills to learn how best to serve the archdiocese catechesis and evangelization. This idea of how to best serve the archdiocese is something that is being introduced to the students at the conference. She earned a master's degree in theology.
“The conference helps the youth to be young disciples,” Torok said.