More than 200 teens from around the diocese will gather on the Bishop T.K. Gorman Catholic School campus July 24-26 for the first Diocesan Catholic Youth Conference.
The conference, called Set A Fire!, is for high school students, from those entering in the fall to those who have just graduated.
It opens July 24 at 4 p.m. with registration and closes at 10 a.m. July 26 with a Mass celebrated by Bishop Joseph E. Strickland.
Mass also will be celebrated Friday night at 8 p.m., followed by exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and adoration.
The weekend will include music, small group sessions, a vocations question and answer session, prayer, and opportunities for confession.
Providing music for the weekend will be Dave Moore, a Catholic singer from Corpus Christi. His music can be heard on his website.
Keynote speakers will be Mario St. Francis and Benedictine Sister Mary Clare.
St. Francis is a former model and actor once named one of Cosmopolitan magazine’s 50 most eligible bachelors. He gave up that life to speak about his Catholic faith, to share his conversion experience with young people and to encourage them to live their own faith. Information about his ministry, as well as videos and magazine articles, can be found at his website.
Sister Mary Clare is a member of the Olivetan Benedictines in Jonesboro, Ark. She has worked in both Hispanic and youth ministries. She will speak on vocations.
“Our hope is that teens will come open and willing to experience whatever God has in store for them, and that they will be strengthened by the community of Catholic teens from around the diocese,” said Mark Knox, diocesan director of youth evangelization.
Some 215 teens from 22 parishes have registered for the weekend, he said.
“It’s our hope that they will encounter Christ in the Mass, in adoration, and in each other as the young church of East Texas gathers,” Knox said. “We want them to be inspired to go back into their parishes to continue their lives in the sacraments and to strengthen the youth ministry within their parish community.
“We also hope that the youth ministers and volunteers who come will be renewed and strengthened by the presence of the Holy Spirit and be moved to continue their work with the young people in their parishes at a much deeper and more profound level,” he said.
“Most of all, we just hope that the Holy Spirit moves the young church in the Diocese of Tyler to be more faithful to the Gospel and to witness to their peers of the truth in the Catholic Church.”
Knox said he is still looking for priests to attend the conference and be available to hear confessions.
“We’d love to have any priests who could come,” he said. “We want the teens to have plenty of opportunities for confessions, and the priests are welcome to concelebrate at the liturgies.”
Space also is available for vendors at $50 a table, and contributions either to sponsor young people or youth groups or simply to help defray conference costs are welcome, Knox said.
“We’d like to express our thanks to Bishop Gorman for allowing us to use their facilities and to St. Gregory (Cathedral School) for allowing us to use their buses,” he said.