By Roman Flores
EL CENTRO – The Catholic Church will present the first Youth Conference for the Imperial Valley on March 7 with the theme of “Unbreakable.”
The event is free and organizers hope to attract as many as 500 high-school age youngsters from the valley. This conference is part of an effort by the Church there to increase the number of youth groups in the valley, and to keep them. motivated to grow in their faith.
The diocese, working in conjunction with local parishes, hosted Imperial Valley Youth Day with Father Agustino last summer, and last month presented Father Tony Ricard in “Spring Forward conference. Both speakers are nationally recognized for engaging young faithful.
The theme for the upcoming conference reflects “the unbreakable love and friendship of Jesus Christ,” said one of the event’s coordinators, Sister Hellen Muchira, the youth group leader for El Centro Catholic.
She said the event started as an idea to bring the Catholic youth together.
“I was praying, ‘Help me, Lord: What is the best (thing) that can satisfy our youth in the Valley?’ And that’s how (we) came up with those topics.”
The conference will be held on Saturday, March 7, at St. Mary’s parish hall from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The event will offer 10 workshops led by local Catholic educators, religious and volunteers. The teens will be able to choose the topics most relevant to them.
The workshop topics include “Leaning to Accept and Be Yourself in Jesus Christ,” “Answering the Question of Faith or Science,” “In the World but Not Of it,” “Pope Francis’s Message to the Youth,” and tackle such issues as chastity and sexuality, abortion, and mental health.
In addition, the event will include food and live music by the keynote speaker, Jose Martinez, a host at JP2 Catholic Radio, which broadcasts in the valley. Confession will available during Adoration, and there will be a closing Mass led by the Diocesan Director of Vocations, Father Lauro Minimo.
Attendance at the event will be mandatory for Confirmation students to fulfill the diocese’s requirement for a “day of recollection” for those preparing to receive the sacrament this spring, said Francisco Cabrera, the Director of Religious Education for El Centro Catholic and event co-coordinator
A great youth conference enables those attending it to see “the universal Church in action,” Cabrera said. “A reason why conferences like Steubenville and L.A. Congress are so amazing is because of the amount of people that are there. These kids are not really exposed to those (conferences) here.
“That’s why it’s so important for the Valley to have its own, unique thing,” Cabrera said.
He would like to grow the youth conference to be a vibrant annual event.
“This is the beginning of something that can be great.”
The Imperial Valley Youth Conference “Unbreakable” will be held Saturday, March 7, from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at St. Mary Parish, 795 La Brucherie Road, El Centro, 92243. Admission is free for valley youth. More information is available from the parish office at 760-352-4211. Individuals may register to attend through the website elcentrocatholic.org. Youth interesting in growing in their faith in the Brawley area may contact Teresa Moya at firstname.lastname@example.org, and Francisco Cabrera in the El Centro area at Francisco@elcentrocatholic.org.