by Fr. Timothy Armbruster, C.PP.S., Regional Vocation Director
I grew up wearing a hat on the farm all the time. It was usually some style of a baseball hat. It really didn’t matter to me much what logo was on the front as long as it blocked the sun. People wear hats of all kinds for many different reasons. For some it’s a sign of belonging, for others it’s a fashion statement, and for others it’s just a cover.
Just before Thanksgiving, I along with other members of our Precious Blood Vocation Team, joined 23,000 youth for NCYC 2013 in Indianapolis, Indiana. It was three days of excitement, high-energy and youth alive with the Spirit to celebrate our faith and come together as Church. If one has never been, it’s hard to describe the energy and excitement and traditions.
One NCYC tradition is the wearing and trading of hats. Each group attending wears a hat unique in some way to their local with the intention of trading them with others. During one of the morning sessions, Jesse Manibusan, our emcee for the event, welcomed the bishops. With the theme of a train, each of the bishops was given an engineer’s hat with the NCYC logo. As Jesse stood with the same engineer’s hat, he commented he almost called his mom to say, “I’m a bishop.” Then reality struck and that was the end of that thought. As one of the bishops gave the final blessing of our morning session/prayer, he made the comment, “Thank you for the hat.” For as he explained it, it was a welcoming of the bishops as one of us as NCYC’ers.
NCYC is wonderful opportunity to interact with the young church of today. However, the tradition booth and handing out prayer cards or other community insignia doesn’t always get our message out there. This year, we were part of the Inspiration Junction. We, along with NRVC and other religious communities staffed various activities throughout the theme park. This allowed us to interact with the youth in various ways and encouraged conversations. It got us away from just handing out things.
And the hat! It’s just part of NCYC and being with the youth. It was a reminder to each of us on the vocation team to meet the youth where they are. It truly was an invitation to be with the youth in their activity.