- 23,000 teens swampped a city...and there were no riots. The wonderful police force who helped keep our kids safe were greeted with kind words, offered the trinkets (and hats, and moustaches) that the kids brought to trade.
- It wasn't a rock concert that brought in all those stage lights, sound systems and filled the stadium - no, it was a wonderful group of faith-filled adults sharing humor, music, and faith with the young Church.
- Those kids flooding between the Lucas Oil Stadium and the Indianapolis Conference Center weren't looking for trouble - they were looking to get the good seats at one of the fantastic workshops!
- Then there was Mass. On a Saturday night, 23,000 teens rocked LOS with entrance hymns (I think 4 or 5). Praised and worshiped God in the Word, Eucharist, and community. And spent hours happily Mass.
- Let's not forget when, under the specific instructions of Bishop Coyne, we all pulled out our phones, tablet computers, and so forth. We then happily Tweeted, emailed, texted, or Facebooked "Called to Glory!" And promptly flooded the towers in downtown Indianapolis. Oopps - what a way to go though!
But that's not the whole story.
- At an event where they had to fundraise or pay several hundred dollars to participate, I saw teens buying bagels by the dozen. Not to eat, but to give out in packages of six to the homeless people they had passed by.
- I watched teens offer seats to those with crutches, even if it meant they had to go and stand in the back of the room.
- I listened to the stories kids told after workshops of how they felt they encountered God.
- As someone in a long time military family, it warmed my heart to see kids making greeting cards to send to troops that are abroad when the teens could otherwise be playing in the games area.
- Teens shared trading items, snacks, bottles of water juice or soda.
- Teens lifted each others' spirits when exhaustion took hold.
There are times these days when things look dire and we may fall to the temptation of despair. However, these teens that descended upon Indianapolis reminded me of the great hope for our future. And the great hope of the now. For they are not the future Church. They are not the future of our nation or our world. They are the Church now. They are hope for us now.