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I attended the 62nd Buffalo Diocesan Youth Convention at the Adam’s Mark Hotel earlier this month. The three-day conference is a gathering of young people from the Diocese of Buffalo to explore their Catholic faith. The theme for this year’s convention was “With All of My Heart.”

The opening session began with praise and dancing, led by musician and speaker Carrie Ford, in the hotel’s Grand Ballroom, which was decorated with banners from all the represented parishes. The youth ministry group at each parish works hard to create these “flags” that represent its group and its interpretation of the convention’s theme.

The second day of the convention began bright and early with a “teaching” Mass to educate those who might not know about the different parts of a Catholic service. The day continued with breakout sessions that focused on specific Catholic issues, such as implementing Catholicism into the average teenager’s daily life, right-to-life situations and the importance of faith in modern society.

Approximately two dozen priests from the diocese came later that day to help administer the sacrament of Reconciliation, where participants confess their sins.

A dance was held that evening in the ballroom.

The closing day of the convention began with brunch, followed by a Mass that was led by Bishop Richard J. Malone, the leader of the Diocese of Buffalo. Many of the young people in attendance relished the opportunity to celebrate Mass with the bishop alongside their friends and family.

My favorite part of the weekend was the opportunity to meet new people. Meeting other teenagers that celebrate and rejoice in their faith as you do is an enlightening experience. The friendships I have made through attending three Diocesan Youth Conventions, with kids from Jamestown to East Aurora, mean so much to me; I consider myself blessed to have met so many fantastic people.

If you have the chance to attend this annual event, I strongly recommend it; you will leave the weekend with unforgettable lessons, a rekindled faith and memorable moments shared with friends both old and new.

Erika Talbot is a senior at St. Mary’s High School.