In this era of 24-hour access to news and information, it is sometimes a challenge to find the true story amid fake news and alternative facts. Next weekend, more than 700 youth and adult chaperones will explore and discover who is the truth and the truth about Jesus' love at the 66th annual Diocesan Youth Convention. "True Story" is this year's theme. The weekend convention will be held March 2-4 at the Adam's Mark Hotel in downtown Buffalo.
The three-day event will include liturgy, group sessions, speakers, service projects, fellowship, an award presentation and dance. Several priests will be available Saturday evening for reconciliation and Bishop Richard J. Malone will preside at Mass on Sunday afternoon.
One of this year's service projects involves weaving plastic yarn, or plarn, into sleeping mats. The diocesan youth department is partnering with the Food Bank of Western New York and their member agencies to make and distribute these mats to homeless members in the community. The plarn is made from upcycled plastic grocery bags. Other service projects include preparing soup mix packets for the Response to Love Center, making cards to share support and encouragement to survivors at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, and partnering with The Teacher's Desk to prepare supplies for underprivileged schools.
Doug Tooke, director or marketing and development for ODB Films and owner of Monarch Catholic Ministries LLC, is this year's keynote speaker. He will talk about encountering the truth, living the truth and sharing the truth.
Based in Helena, Mont., Tooke's work has taken him to more than 75 dioceses and archdioceses to speak and train youth leaders about youth and adult formation. He has spoken at various conferences and seminars including World Youth Day.
The Manus Christi Awards will be presented to eight youth on Sunday (March 4) followed by a closing Mass celebrated by Bishop Malone. The Manus Christi Awards are given to graduating seniors in recognition of their witness to their faith, outstanding moral character, commitment to parish ministry and youth ministry, dedicated leadership, and academic success. This year's recipients are: