Connecticut youth congress explores true meaning of freedom

Convivio Poster CNA US Catholic News 2 9 12

Is freedom just the absence of rules, or something more? Over three hundred high school students will discuss what it means to be free, during the March 9-11 Convivio conference in Fairfield, Conn.

Freedom “is such an important topic in our time but also one that is very misunderstood,” organizer Florencia Silva said in an announcement released by congress. She directs youth ministry in the Diocese of Bridgeport, which is sponsoring the international Catholic youth congress.

Organized by the Marian Community of Reconciliation, the 2012 Convivio conference belongs to a 30-year tradition of bringing young people together to reflect on life's questions and the issues facing society. Its format features group discussions alongside larger gatherings and presentations.

“Convivio is a great occasion for young people to meet other people their own age who are also seeking for true answers to the problems of the world and to the fundamental questions in life,” Silva explained. “It is a place for them to seek and find answers together.”

Open to all high school students, the 2012 gathering at Fairfield's Sacred Heart University – on the theme “Freedom: It's Your Choice” – is the third Convivio event to be held in the U.S.

Past meetings have taken place in Australia, England, and the Philippines, as well as countries in South America and Africa.

For Fairfield Warde High School senior Madeleine Veith, who attended Convivio 2010, the event was “a life-changing experience where I both discovered my love for faith and found my closest friends.”

“It gave us a voice, and a community which showed us not only that we are loved, but that we can find happiness, and bring happiness to others.”

Along with the presentations and youth-led discussions, the weekend event includes Masses, opportunities for Confession and Eucharistic Adoration, music, skits, and time for recreation.

Youth minister Alyssa Brelsford attended Convivio as a teenager, and will bring a group from Stratford's Our Lady of Peace parish to the March 2012 meeting.

She said the event offers “a chance for young people to find the answers that they are searching for in a very positive, encouraging and happy environment.”

“When I attended Convivio I could see how the participants and the leaders changed from Friday to Sunday. They walk a journey to encountering Christ and they know that they are not alone, that hundreds of their peers are walking with them.”

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