This summer, July 21–30, twenty-four young women from across Canada and the USA joined together for a national ECYD convention at the Lake Williamson Center in Carlinville, Illinois. The theme was “ECYD Fully Alive,” based on St Irenaeus’s saying that “the glory of God is man fully alive.”
One conference participant, Maddie Nagel from Ohio, said the experience was “incredible. It’s a lot different than other experiences of ECYD, like camps and retreats, that we’ve been on.”
Maddie said the convention was informative and helped the young women go deep. For her, adoration was the most powerful experience. “It was amazing, but it was also cool to share that with others from around the country,” she said. “Even though we came from all over the country, it was amazing that, from such different backgrounds, we can come together and be ECYD.”
Another participant, Katie Kirkpatrick from Saskatchewan, Canada, agreed that it was an incredible experience.“I didn’t know a lot of [the other girls], but we all just instantly clicked and I made so many new friends. I learned so much about my faith . . . bioethics, philosophy and Christology. I feel that studying those really deepened my faith.”
Katie said the course on Christology was her favorite part. “Amelie, the consecrated who taught us, was really passionate and taught us to see Jesus as a person, not just some divinity we pray to sometimes,” she said.
The convention, the first national event of its kind for young ECYD women in about a decade, provided more in-depth formation for existing ECYD members than local camps do, which are often a girl’s introduction to ECYD. It is more formal than a camp, with courses and a dress code and more intentional formation.
Maria Knuth, national ECYD director, said, “A lot of the girls at the convention are used to being team leaders, so I think they appreciated that we went all out for their activities. They aren’t used to being the participants.”
Every night they enjoyed fun activities. One night there was a murder mystery based on The Greatest Showman, a movie which all the girls loved. Everyone came dressed in character and the whole room was decorated. Another night they put on a talent show, including Fr Andreas Kramarz, LC, the chaplain, who played incredible piano pieces. Once they went out on a hayride and played sports with black light.
The classes covered different aspects of the human person: bioethics, Christology, and culture, faith and technology, as well as a course on the charism of ECYD and Regnum Christi and another on affectivity of the heart. They also made; a half-day retreat.
One day they engaged in Missions where they preached on the street and did yard work at a seniors’ residence. Katie said the yardwork was enjoyable, even though at home it isn’t a fun activity for her.
A team of consecrated women and young women in Regnum Christi led the convention. The consecrated were Maria Knuth, Amelie Torre, and Natalia Santos. The young women included Rachael Jacob from Louisiana, Brittany Tover-Hanavan form the Cincinnati area, Sarah Gallivant from Houston, and Mary Peach from Akron. Some moms, such as Corinne Kirkpatrick, also helped.
Maria Knuth said the participants seemed to have a great time. “They really enjoyed meeting other young women from around the country,” she said, “as it’s one of the first times they’ve met with other young ladies who had similar experiences and who they could built friendships with. They loved the sacramental life with daily Mass and adoration. A lot of them had deep Jesus moments.”
Much of the time, Maria pointed out, those who work with young women’s ECYD have focused on middle-school-aged girls, so this seemed like a good opportunity to do something geared toward ECYD girls in high school.
Fr. Andreas liked the results he saw. “The girls left very excited to transmit the Gospel to their relatives, to their friends and at school,” he said.
Many of the young ladies left eager to share what ECYD was with their teams back home. Others were looking forward to starting Regnum Christi encounter teams. Maddie Nagel said she’ll be using her experience to start an encounter team in the Columbus, OH, area, while Katie Kirkpatrick, a rising junior who is a team leader for fourth-grade girls, said the convention has helped her as a team leader.