INDIANAPOLIS — More than 2,000 years after his birth, Christ the King was honored in a historic way with a massive electronic “holy shoutout” via texts, emails and tweets sent simultaneously from cellphones Nov. 19 by 23,000 participants at the National Catholic Youth Conference and National Catholic Collegiate Conference.
It was a fun and faith-filled way for the Catholic youths and young adults to honor God and conclude the 31st biennial national conference, held Nov. 17-19 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Bishop Christopher J. Coyne, apostolic administrator of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis and host of the conference, asked the teenagers, collegians and all attending the closing Mass to text, email or tweet the words “Called to Glory,” the conference theme, to family members and friends throughout the U.S. at the conclusion of the vibrant liturgy.
Murmurs began to spread through the quiet football stadium when Bishop Coyne surprised the conference participants by asking them to turn on their cellphones at the end of Mass.
“For over two hours now, we have turned this space into a holy place where holy people have listened to holy words and done holy things and received holy gifts,” Bishop Coyne said.
“I want you all to dig out your cellphones, … and turn them on because we’re going to do a holy shoutout. I don’t think this has ever been done … with a crowd like this, and maybe the first time at a big Catholic gathering. I want you to type in ‘Called to Glory.'”
After he announced the “holy shoutout,” the teenagers, collegians and others in attendance quickly typed in the words then awaited his cue to press the “send” button on their cellphones.
“When I say, ‘We are …,’ ” Bishop Coyne told them, “we are going to shout out ‘Called to Glory’ and you’re going to send it out to all those people out there on the Internet that are watching us and all the people we love. We are going to spread that greatness to the call to glory. Are you ready? We are … called to glory!”
Jacqueline Jackson-Morant from the Archdiocese of Detroit sent her “Called to Glory” message to her mother, siblings, grandmother and aunt.
“It was a great conference,” she told The Criterion, the Indianapolis archdiocesan newspaper. “I loved it. I’m blessed to be here today, and I’d like to come again in 2013. I liked seeing all the bishops and priests and deacons.”
Bishop Coyne was the principal celebrant for the closing Mass, which was concelebrated by eight bishops and 250 priests from throughout the country.
Thirty deacons and 175 seminarians from many dioceses also participated in the Mass with talented teenage lectors and music ministers.
“It’s just wonderful to be gathered here tonight with all 23,000 of you,” Bishop Coyne told the gathering at the start of the liturgy, “and welcome you on behalf of the entire Catholic community here in Indianapolis. It’s been a glorious three days, and it’s going to be a glorious celebration of the Mass.”
The reading from the Gospel of St. Matthew spoke of when the Son of God will come in his glory before all the nations then separate the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats to reward those who help the poor, hungry, sick and imprisoned.
The Scripture passage reminds Christians that Jesus said: “Amen, I say to you, whatever you did to one of the least brothers of mine, you did for me.”
Bishop Coyne’s homily focused on God’s call to service and charity, and included a visual aid and joke.
He held up a poster-size image of his bishop trading card — conference organizers created trading cards, designed like baseball cards, for several bishops in attendance.
Bishop Coyne joked that he wanted to order copies of his card for all of the parishes in central and southern Indiana. Then he got serious about the need to live a faith-filled life that honors God.
Popular culture wants people to believe “the idea that ‘it’s all about me,'” Bishop Coyne said, “the idea that what I need is the only thing that matters. … That’s what gets us in trouble.”
God calls us to choose what is right and good, and to reject what is sinful and wrong, he said, instead of acting on our selfish needs and desires in daily life situations.
“Our Christian Catholic faith tells us that we need to be down at the bottom of the hill looking up to the King of the Hill, Christ the King, on the cross,” Bishop Coyne said. “He is the King of the Hill, and when we follow that (path) we are placing ourselves in righteousness before God. We are placing ourselves in the call to glory, and we’re working toward salvation.”
Christians are called to lives of loving service and charitable sacrifice for God, Bishop Coyne said, to help bring forth the kingdom and give glory to God along the road to salvation.
“The call to glory is the call to our personal cross,” he said. “It’s the cross to love, and Jesus says it’s not a heavy cross because how can love be heavy.
“We give glory to God every time we come together to worship God,” Bishop Coyne said. “All those sacrifices that we make, all those gifts that we give, all those things we do out of love for God and neighbor, we bring them to the altar … and we join them to Christ’s sacrifice — Christ, the King of the Hill, on the cross.”