Young people from across the diocese to gather for prayer, music and fun
By Jay Nies
The world’s idea of “perfect” is perfect nonsense.
A lot of young people buy into it anyway and then wonder why they’re unhappy and ruled by drama.
“If you are feeling lost, insecure or ‘not enough’ and are being dragged down by the world and its demands, I would love for you to come hear my talk,” said Sarah Swafford, the keynote speaker at this year’s Jefferson City Youth Conference (JCYC).
Sponsored by the diocesan Youth Ministry Office, the conference will be held on Sunday, Sept. 14, in the Cathedral of St. Joseph.
It is for high school youth and their parents or adult chaperones.
The day will be filled with music, talks by dynamic speakers, Adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament, games, fun activities, and Mass with Bishop John R. Gaydos.
Cell phones are welcome for social media opportunities throughout the day and for “selfies” with a cardboard cut-out of Pope Francis.
Break-out sessions will include talks aimed at high school girls, high school boys, and adults.
The sacrament of reconciliation will be available during Adoration.
The musical presenter will be John Angotti,a contemporary Catholic composer, singer and full-time music missionary who travels throughout many parts of the world providing a clear musical message: that there is hope, healing and truth with the love of God.
He has nine recordings to date and is published through World Library Publications in Chicago.
“If you want to find out what the ‘Emotocoaster’ is and how to stay off of it, this talk is for you,” said Mrs. Swafford, Catholic speaker, writer, family woman and founder of Emotional Virtue Ministries.
One of her life’s passions is to show young people how to let go of some of their baggage and find real happiness in the truth.
“I have a new plan and a new attitude to approach life and relationships, drama-free!” she said.
The mother of three is passionate about emotional virtue because she’s seen too many people suffer from a lack of it.
“Relationships and wounds from the past — especially pain from being used or using others emotionally or physically — are some of the main things that I see keeping people from our Lord and His Church,” she stated.
“Our passions and emotions can get the best of us sometimes,” she continued. “We have to learn to train them toward the true, the good and the beautiful and live a life of faith and virtue.
“If we can work through that pain together, people can see the love of God and the love of the Church more clearly,” she said.
Mrs. Swafford shares her message to people of all ages at school assemblies, retreats, rallies, and conferences across the country, addressing topics such as emotional virtue, dating and relationships, modesty of intentions, and interior confidence.
Her presentations are packed with stories, humor and honesty.
“I try to be real — VERY real — and meet people where they are at,” she said.
A friend and former classmate at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kan., described her as honest, authentic and true.
“Sarah is not afraid to speak the truth and does it in such a relatable way,” stated Maureen Queen, administrative assistant for the diocesan Religious Education Office. “She challenges each of us to authentic holiness in every part of our lives.”
Mrs. Swafford has been a guest on EWTN’s “Life on the Rock” and “EWTN Live” programs and has been featured in the National Catholic Register.
She is also a contributor to Chosen, Ascension Press’ confirmation program; and YDisciple’s True Beauty.
She is a proud team member of ChastityProject.com and has spoken at Steubenville Conferences around the United States and in Canada.
She has also contributed videos for womenmadenew.com.
She and her husband, Dr. Andrew Swafford, live in Atchison, Kansas, with their three small children.
Pick up sticks?
Mrs. Swafford plans on leaving the music to Mr. Angotti.
She said she’s always wanted to be in a band but has no musical talent to speak of.
At one youth event, the house band invited her to join in on the final song.
“I was rocking out on the drums and thought I would try to be cool and throw the drumstick into the crowd like a rock star, and I accidentally his some guy in the head.
“Smooth! Very smooth! The whole band will never let me live it down,” she said.
She said it’s humbling and amazing to hear from people in person or by e-mail that her talk changed their life or helped them get out of a bad situation or addiction.
One young woman told her that she had been contemplating suicide all summer.
“But after my talk at a Steubenville Conference, she finally confided in her parents and sought help,”
The young woman told Mrs. Swafford that she had stopped cutting herself since hearing the talk and that she finally felt hope for the first time in years.
“Praise God!” said Mrs. Swafford. “I thank God for allowing people to hear His voice and His truth through me.”
She emphasized that her message is for anyone and everyone.
“Life is hard, and it’s easy to feel alone,” she said. “But you are not alone! We’re in this together!”
When and how
Registration for the Youth Conference will start at noon in the Cathedral Undercroft.
JCYC will start at 1 p.m. and close with Mass at 6:30 p.m.
The Mass will satisfy the Sunday obligation.
The $20-per-person admission includes dinner.
Walk-ins are welcome, but in order to make sure there’s enough food, people who plan to attend the event should contact their parish youth ministry coordinators or parish secretaries.
By Sept. 9, each parish should notify the Office of Youth Ministry of the number of people who plan to attend.