‘Take courage’:
Hundreds of students gather in Richmond to celebrate faith

High school students listen during a general session at the Diocesan Youth Conference on Feb. 10, 2024. (Photo/Claire Bebermeyer)

Editor’s note: Click to see our full coverage of DYC and Summit.


The Greater Richmond Convention Center and adjacent Richmond Marriott became home to nearly 1400 Catholics celebrating and renewing their faith on the second weekend in February. From Feb. 9-11, approximately 750 high schoolers participated in the Diocesan Youth Conference (DYC); from Feb. 9-10, approximately 475 college students participated in the College Campus Ministry Summit (Summit). The theme for both events was “Take Courage.”

In addition to Mass, adoration and confession, there were opportunities to attend breakout talks, to pray, and to make new faith-based friendships. More than 100 clergy, including Bishop Barry C. Knestout, seminarians, religious sisters, volunteers and staff were also in attendance.

“Where I grew up, there weren’t that many Catholics. When I transferred [to Radford], I found a group of Catholics, so it was really nice to take a trip with them to meet others,” said Anne Notebaert, a Summit attendee.

Many of the breakout talks emphasized that “courage” does not mean facing reckless danger, but trusting in God’s will. Father Brian Capuano, judicial vicar and chancellor; as well as pastor of St. John, Highland Springs; St. Patrick, Richmond; and St. Peter’s Pro-Cathedral, Richmond; and Father John David Ramsey, pastor of St. Benedict, Richmond, both gave well-attended talks on the subject.

“I had always thought of the concept of ‘courage’ as something different,” said Notebaert. “It’s been really interesting to hear about what it means through the eyes of the Church.”

Alejandro Coello-Beillette, a 20-year-old student at Virginia Commonwealth University, chose to attend as a DYC chaperone for Our Lady of Lourdes, Richmond. He attended last year as a high schooler himself.

“I really appreciated what I learned last year, and I wanted to come back and get more out of it this year,” said Coello-Beillette. “I’m a catechist now, and being able to be with the kids has been a great experience.”


Editor’s note: Click to see our full coverage of DYC and Summit.


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