As a teenager, Michaela Miller had a life changing moment in her faith journey while attending a Youth 2000 retreat in Owensboro, Kentucky. As Youth Ministry Coordinator of Catechesis at St. Philip Church in Franklin, she has brought Youth 2000 to the teenagers in her parish and the Diocese of Nashville over the past three years in hopes that they will experience similar life changing moments.
The conference will be held Friday through Sunday, April 15-17, at St. Philip for students in grades eight through 12. This year’s theme is “I am the Bread of Life.” Its focus is on the Eucharist as the source and summit of the retreat and of Christian life.
“When I went to my first Youth 2000 conference, it was the first time I began to understand the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist and in my life,” Miller said. “And I’m hoping the teens who come have that experience too.
“Jesus is not just someone we meet when we go to Mass or to a retreat or conference,” she said. “He is present in every aspect of our lives: in our families, at school, in our working lives, with our friends, when we go to sleep and everywhere else in between. And in the Eucharist, He makes His presence physically known.”
Youth 2000 is an international movement inspired by a challenge that St. John Paul II issued to the young people attending World Youth Day in Santiago de Compostela, Spain, in 1989, to live out the Gospel message and share it with others: “It is to you young people the task first falls of becoming witness to the faith and of bringing into the third millennium the Gospel of Christ, who is the Way, the Truth, the Life.”
The first Youth 2000 retreat was held in Ireland in 1993. It has since spread to 25 countries around the world, including England, the United States, France and Germany.
More than 600 teens and their chaperones are expected to attend the St. Philip conference from across Tennessee and around the country. “We have 12 groups registered so far, from the Diocese of Nashville and from Memphis,” she said. “We also have one group from Indiana coming and another from Kentucky. And, of course, many individuals are also attending.”
Each day of the conference will begin with praise and worship music from Catholic songwriter PJ Anderson. There will also be daily Mass, opportunities to receive the Sacrament of Penance, Adoration, Benediction, small group breakout sessions, recitation of the Rosary and Divine Mercy Chaplet, testimonies from teens who attend, and keynote talks from the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal.
Registration is $50 per person, which includes lunch and dinner on Saturday. The conference opens at 6 p.m. Friday, April 15, with registration, and will close at 10:30 p.m. Saturday, activities begin at 8 a.m. and continue until 10 p.m., and on Sunday, the day will begin with music at 8 a.m. and close at 12:30 p.m. after Mass.
Having the Franciscan Friars attend will be one of the highlights for Miller. “The United States chapter of Youth 2000 is directed by a mother-daughter team, but the retreats are run by the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal. They were at the Youth 2000 retreat I attended and were wonderful. And it’s great that they’ll be with us too,” she said.
Miller hopes that the teens who attend grow in their faith. “The teenagers who come are at many different stages in their walk with God. Some have a pretty solid faith life and need reassurance that God is real and present in their lives. Others are on a serious search for truth,” she said. “I hope that no matter where they are in their journey, that they have what they need to take another step closer to Jesus.”
For more information or to register, visit