December 1, 2022 | Local News, Youth
Fr. Stephen Van Lal Than

Teens stand up and cheer during the Nov. 18-19, 2022 Owensboro Diocese Youth Conference (ODYC) which was held at the Knicely Center in Bowling Green. RILEY GREIF | WKC

¡Viva Cristo Rey!

Diocesan youth conference helps young people encounter Jesus


¡Viva Cristo Rey! The Owensboro Diocese Youth Conference (ODYC) was a blessed celebration with youth from across the diocese. On Nov. 18-19, over 350 youth and adults from 25 parishes came together in Bowling Green, Ky., at the Knicely Center to pray, worship, laugh, dance, and grow in faith.

The theme of the conference was Christ is King/Cristo es Rey and focused on helping participants understand their identity, belonging, and purpose in Jesus Christ and His Church. There were three talks given over the weekend, a time of Adoration and confession, breakout sessions, a glow party, and Mass with Bishop Medley. The weekend also focused on the saints and particularly San José Sánchez del Río who was martyred at age 14 in Mexico for refusing to renounce his Catholic Faith.

A special aspect of ODYC this year was that every speaker, musician, and celebrant was from our local diocesan community. We are so thankful to Jessy Bennett, Ethan Bennett, and Kristin Dorth for our keynote presentations; Susy Solorza-Shelman and Ben Warrell for serving as emcees; Fr. Daniel Dillard, Fr. Basilio Az Cuc, Wade Gaynor, John Shelman, Dr. Jill Sauerheber, and Olivia Romero for leading breakout sessions; Fr. Corey Bruns for our Holy Hour and sacristy; Francis Zelinka, Joel Ciaccio, and Kathryn Haire for providing music; several priests from the diocese hearing confessions; and for Bishop Medley joining us for Mass.

Our desire for conferences like ODYC is that they provide an encounter with Jesus and His Church for young people. The real work of ongoing ministry with young people happens within their family and local parish community. Our hope is that the talks, experiences, and discussions will keep going long after the conference around the dinner table, on car rides, and at youth group nights. With that in mind, special thanks to all the youth leaders and adult mentors who came to ODYC and made it possible for the youth from their parish to attend.

A year from now we will be returning to the National Catholic Youth Conference in Indianapolis with high school youth from around the country.  We will begin planning for this experience in the spring.  Until then, ¡Viva Cristo Rey! ¡Que Viva!

Charlie Hardesty is the director of the Offices of Youth and Young Adult Ministry for the Diocese of Owensboro. Contact him at [email protected].

Bishop William F. Medley blesses the participants of the Owensboro Diocese Youth Conference (ODYC) during the Nov. 19, 2022 closing Mass at the Knicely Center in Bowling Green. RILEY GREIF | WKC

Youth sing and pray during ODYC (Owensboro Diocese Youth Conference), which took place at the Knicely Conference Center in Bowling Green, Ky., from Nov. 18-19, 2022. It was the first time the conference took place since before the COVID-19 pandemic. RILEY GREIF | WKC

Originally printed in the December 2022 issue of The Western Kentucky Catholic.

Current Issue

Publisher |  Bishop William F. Medley
Editor |  Elizabeth Wong Barnstead
Contributors |  Riley Greif, Rachel Hall
Layout |  Rachel Hall
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