By Tony DeGol
The Catholic Register
Tim Morris is considering becoming an eye doctor.
He thinks the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown has the perfect vision for inspiring youth.
“When you’re in high school and trying to figure out how to deal with things in your life, those speakers at SHYCON never fail to address problems that you have and even your friends have,” recalled Morris, a graduate of Bishop Carroll Catholic High School in Ebensburg. “I took that advice that they gave me, and I used it.”
Now studying Biology/Pre-Medicine and Business at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, he has fond memories of his SHYCON experiences.
“I loved it so much that I joined the planning team so that I could be part of it and try to help spread the same knowledge that I received from it,” Morris added. “It was so awesome to be able to go to SHYCON with your friends so that you would have a good time at the games together, but then also feel more comfortable when it came to listening to speakers.”
SHYCON 2018 – open to students in grades 9-12 – will be held on Sunday, October 28 at Saint Francis University in Loretto.
This year’s theme will be “Strong and Courageous,” which is inspired by Scripture.
I command you be strong and courageous! Do not fear or be discouraged for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.
“I think in today’s world where there is so much conflict, it’s causing some young people to be afraid to step out and speak about their beliefs and speak about what’s right,” offered Francine Swope, diocesan coordinator of Youth Ministry, Religious Education, and Sacramental Preparation. “This passage teaches us that if you’re doing it with God in your heart, with the right intentions, you can be strong and courageous because God is constantly with you.”
The keynote presenter will be Paul J. Kim, an internationally-known speaker who uses beatboxing, comedy, and inspirational talks to share his message.
A group of local teens who participated in a recent National Catholic Youth Conference in Indianapolis experienced Kim’s dynamic presentation and encouraged Swope to bring him here.
Once again, SHYCON attendees will have the opportunity to make a difference around the world. For the third consecutive year, students will roll up their sleeves for the Rise Against Hunger organization.
Students will package 30,000 meals – mostly rice and beans – that will feed the hungry here in the United States and other countries.
“The kids seem to enjoy it, and we do think it’s an important contribution,” Swope said. “Walking the walk really makes a difference for these kids. It makes the day even more special for them.”
Swope is welcoming contributions to help offset the costs of the project.
In addition to the meal packaging and Kim’s keynote presentation, another highlight of the day will be Mass with Bishop Mark L. Bartchak.
Swope sees SHYCON as a wonderful opportunity for high school students from throughout the diocese.
“One of the biggest benefits is for these kids to realize the Church is bigger than their parish,” she mentioned. “It’s a chance for them to come together. It’s important for them to see the bigger Church.”
Teens interested in attending SHYCON 2018 must register through their parish director of Religious Education or Catholic high school principal or chaplain by October 15.
Promised Morris: “If you go to SHYCON, I guarantee you will gain something from that day – whether it be a better relationship with God or just a reaffirmation that you are already on the right path.”
Seeing is believing, according to this possible future eye doctor.