By Tim Bishop
WEST VIRGINIA—High school youth from throughout the Mountain State are set to gather at Bishop Hodges Pastoral Center in Huttonsville April 16-17 for the annual Diocesan Senior High School Youth Conference, sponsored by the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston. Bob Perron, executive director of the diocesan Department of Youth Ministry, said the theme for this year’s event is “Be a Super Sheep,” which is based on the Gospel of John, Chapter 10 verses 27-30: “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” The conference will feature a keynote address by nationally renowned speaker Mike Patin. “Mike has great energy and uses many tools to affirm God’s goodness and presence among us,” Perron said. “He invites us to take the next step in our journey with God.” There will also be talks by the Missionary Team for the diocese and workshops that Perron said will be relevant for youth in today’s society. Topics for the breakout sessions include a question and answer session with pastoral center director, Shawn Madden; a discernment seminar; and a session focusing on living the Catholic faith on social media. “The end of the spring semester is a busy and stressful time,” said Cathy Meres, member of the Missionary Team. “Taking a weekend to re-center and grow closer to Jesus is the energy boost we could all use.” Youth will also have the opportunity to attend a sunrise Mass at 6:40 a.m. on Sunday celebrated by Father James R. DeViese, Jr., J.C.L. There will also be time set aside for the sacrament of penance and adoration. “The Youth Rally,” Perron said, “is a wonderful opportunity to reconnect with our faith, meet new friends and be with other young Catholics from around the diocese as we are challenged to grow in faith during this year of mercy.” The conference will begin Saturday morning at 11 a.m. and continue until 2 p.m. on Sunday. Perron said the conference is open to any high school student in the diocese. Perron encouraged students from parishes who may not have a youth group to sign up for the conference to get a taste of youth ministry. To register for the conference, contact Heather Bise at (888) 434-6237, ext. 311. Cost for the conference is $95 and will include lodging and meals. For more information, visit www.wvcatholicym.org.