DALLAS, TEXAS, September 9, 2018 - Young Catholic Professionals (YCP) welcomed hundreds of members to Cleveland recently for its annual conference, entitled Mary, Star of Hope. On September 7-9, 2018, young professionals from across the country gathered for a joyful weekend focused on fostering Marian devotion and friendships within the extended YCP family. Saturday’s events concluded with a gala, attended by over 450 guests, celebrating Mary, Cause of Our Joy, in honor of the Feast of her Nativity that day. Spiritual highlights of the weekend included the consecration of YCP to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, the investiture of 70 individuals in the Brown Scapular, and the compilation of 273 prayer commitments in a spiritual bouquet for Mary.
Mary was not only the focus of the talks, but also of the eyes: An exquisite four-foot-tall Italian statue of Mary graced the stage at the conference and the gala. Other statues, Marian images, and quotes from the saints about Mary surrounded attendees throughout the conference venue.
Friday morning, leaders from YCP’s 19 chapters gathered for the one-day Leadership Conference, designed to inform leaders about improvements made over the past year and opportunities for continued involvement once they step down from their roles. Leaders sat together according to their role and discussed how to pitch their respective responsibilities to potential successors.
The three-day Membership Conference began Friday afternoon with Mass offered by Cleveland’s Bishop Nelson Perez and accompanied by beautiful Gregorian chanting of Marian antiphons. During his homily, the bishop challenged attendees: “Ask yourselves, what grace do you seek from this weekend?” He then encouraged them to present their intentions to God through Mary. In his keynote address that evening, the bishop reiterated that, when problems arise, bringing them to Mary is “a simple way to ask for help.”
Saturday included opportunities for Mass, Confession, and Adoration, as well as Investiture in the Brown Scapular. Fr. Ryan Richardson, the chaplain for the YCP Dallas chapter, consecrated YCP to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Following a plenary session with EWTN’s Teresa Tomeo, attendees selected two of the three breakout sessions offered: Marian Prayers, Marian Devotions, and Marian Apparitions.
Business leaders and supporters from Cleveland and across the country were invited to attend the afternoon Ambassador Summit, which included a talk by speaker and author Kimberly Hahn, followed by a panel discussion, in which she was joined by Jennifer Baugh, Founder and Executive Director of YCP; Tim Needles, Founder and CEO of Onix; and Maria Dean, Director of Asset Management for CBIZ. Dick Russ, President of Adaptive Home Services, moderated the discussion.
Almost five hundred guests filled the grand ballroom of the Cleveland Renaissance Hotel on Saturday evening in honor of the Feast of Mary’s Nativity. Along with dinner and dancing, the gala celebration included several tributes to Mary: several entertaining rounds of Marian trivia, a performance of “Ave Maria,” and the traditional favorite, “Happy Birthday.” Jennifer Baugh then spoke about the need for Mary’s sweetness and hope to be emulated in the world, particularly by YCP members, and Tim Needles, CEO of presenting sponsor Onix, emphasized the need for continued financial support, outlining some of the costs associated with running YCP.
The weekend concluded on Sunday with an address by entrepreneur Sean O’Hare and a resolution as a community to pray the Rosary daily leading up to the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary on October 7. Laughter echoed around the room at the send-off as attendees sipped champagne and shared favorite conference moments, before leaving for home, spiritually refreshed and eager to continue Working in Witness for Christ.
YCP was founded in 2010 to help driven, Catholic professionals in their 20s and 30s connect with one another and grow in their Catholic faith, while also encouraging them to “Work in Witness for Christ.” Central to YCP’s mission of engaging young Catholic leaders is the importance of connecting them with seasoned Catholic professionals. YCP currently has chapters in 19 cities across the country. The YCP National Office oversees training, development and implementation of each individual chapter. Local chapters rely on YCP National for ongoing guidance, direction and support.
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