The annual Idaho Catholic Youth Conference (ICYC) took place March 8-10 at the Ford Idaho Center in Nampa. Sisters Sue Ellen Drexler and Wendy Olin attended and took part in events throughout the weekend, including a panel discussion on religious life.

What was your experience like at ICYC?

Sister Wendy, second from left, and Sister Sue Ellen Drexler, fifth from left, participated in a panel on religious life at the Idaho Catholic Youth Conference.

Sister Sue Ellen: The theme for this year was “Chosen.” There was lots of energy and speakers who addressed challenging areas such as communication with the opposite sex, healthy and unhealthy relationships, and the list goes on. The students (sophomores to seniors) heard over and over that God loves them and has chosen them for something that only they can do. Having a good relationship with God, respect for self, and to be in healthy relationships made up the tapestry of their time together. I would say that there were good things for adults to hear as well. 

Sister Wendy: I always very much enjoy ICYC. We joined seminarians and priests in listening to and sharing stories on our vocations. I was excited to experience the differences and similarities among the congregations, from contemplative to active, cloistered, habit-wearing…all types of communities. In the discussion we learned that the type of ministry you did and cultural setting really dictated what you wore.

How were you involved?  How many years now have you been attending?

Sister Sue Ellen: My two areas of involvement were at our booth and going to a lunch with the sisters for young women who were interested in religious life. At lunch we had the chance to answer some of their questions which I found to be quite profound such as: How do you begin to look at discernment? How did you discover your vocation? …and others.  

My experience at the booth was exciting as:

  •  I received students who were collecting information on the different religious communities.
  • There were many adults who stopped by with “oh, I lived in Cottonwood,” “I was there once,” and many other connections.
  • I made eye contact with many people and gave them information about our community.

This was my third ICYC experience that I remember.

Sister Wendy: I have attended every year for the last 12 years if there was not a conflict with community events at the Monastery.

ICYC is a fun and high-energy experience. I get to talk to a lot of youth and even adults. I especially enjoy meeting up with the group from Cottonwood and their leader, Debbie Chicane.  This year, the North Central Deanery was in charge of the “God Squad” — a sort of cheerleading group for the convention. It was fun watching kids from our deanery do short skits and various functions to help direct and run the conference. Our kids did an excellent job. 

I also enjoy serving at the vocation booth for St. Gertrude’s and passing out information, talking to all the young people and also many adults who have never heard of the Monastery. It is a very high energy weekend.

What was your most inspirational moment?

Sister Sue Ellen: I would say that it was the lunch with the sisters. The questions surfaced by the students were very good. It was good for them to hear from the wide range of the many sisters who were present.

Sister Wendy: The skits the kids performed were really good. The speakers delivered impactful talks for both kids and adults on discernment and looking at how the culture of today can effect our lives. The youth were encouraged to make wise decisions on the media they take in. The adoration was very powerful.

How does this conference impact youth/ the world?

Sister Sue Ellen: This conference impacts all who were there. Anyone attentive to what was said in the conferences and at Eucharist could come away with some golden nugget, be it their relationship with God, the reminder of respect for self, and the work of communication with others which goes on for the rest of our lives. Those who listened will share with others who were not present. This makes it possible for a broad range of people to be touched by ICYC. 

Sister Wendy: Kids today are hit with so much in the culture that is anti-Christian; ICYC gives them a chance to come together with like-minded peers. Many youth seemed to be overwhelmed by the awareness that there could be a God that could really love you. The experience is mind-changing for them. 

The high school age is a conflicting time. The conference addresses issues that are going on and what is the framework of these issues in the Christian/Catholic faith. The event also encourages vocations and there are special prayers for young women who feel called to religious life and men who feel called to religious life and/or priesthood.

ICYC gives me a chance every year to visit with a wide range of people. I especially love participating on the vocations panel and answering questions about religious life.

ICYC took place at the Ford Idaho Center in Nampa.

Sister Sue Ellen at the Monastery of St. Gertrude booth at ICYC.