Powerful Messages, Music, and Dance Help Teens Encounter Christ at SHYCON


By Tony DeGol

Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown seminarian Jacob Gindhart had hundreds of teens rocking at SHYCON 2022.

Gindhart, an avid musician and accomplished disc jockey, took a break from co-emceeing the gathering to host a dance party for the kids.

The keynote speaker, meanwhile, had the gang considering a different tune.

“We feel empty inside, so we try to fill it with something, but there is no girlfriend or boyfriend, no drug, no video game, no hobby, no sport, no music – nothing fills that space except for God,” insisted nationally recognized singer, songwriter, and storyteller Steve Angrisano. “We are truly restless until we let God be God. I promise that I don’t have to know you for one second to know that your heart will be restless until you let God be God.”

SHYCON, short for Senior High Youth Conference, was held on October 23 at Saint Francis University in Loretto.

Sponsored by the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown Youth Ministry Office, the annual event is open to students in grades 9-12.

This year’s SHYCON marked the glorious return to in-person gathering. The event was held virtually the past two years due to the pandemic.

The theme was “Do All Things with Love.”

“You don’t need to be any older than you are, any smarter than you are, you don’t need a degree in psychology, theology, or physics to know that you and I are different than everything else in the universe,” Angrisano told the crowd. “You are beautiful. Each one of you is unique. God made us in His own image. You and I create for the joy of creating because we’re made in the image of the Creator. There’s nothing else on earth like you and me.”

Angrisano also reminded the youth of the power they have to make good choices and do good things.

SHYCON kicked off with Mass celebrated by Bishop Mark.

In his homily, the Bishop suggested to the young people that if Jesus had a nickname, it would be Mercy.

“He doesn’t just give mercy, He doesn’t just ask us to be merciful, He is mercy,” Bishop Mark assured. “He’s waiting to share that mercy, His love, with you, today, in this Eucharist, but also in everything you’re going to do today at SHYCON.”

Take some of that mercy home and share it with others, the Bishop suggested.

“In fact, make a note in your brain,” he added. “When you go home, there’s somebody that you know who can use a little of that care and merciful love – a good word from you. The theme for today is ‘Do All Things with Love.’ The love that Jesus had all the time is called mercy.”

Editor’s Note: See highlights from SHYCON 2022 on Proclaim! TV on October 30 at 10:30 a.m. on WATM ABC 23.

[Photos: (Top) Keynote Speaker Steve Angrisano takes a selfie with SHYCON participants from Saint Augustine Parish in Dysart and Saint Monica Parish in Chest Springs. (Inset) The group from Saint Demetrius Parish in Gallitzin pose at SHYCON.]