Annual DCYC gives youth “Encounter” experience

By Joanna Puddister King
VICKSBURG – The annual Diocesan Catholic Youth Conference (DCYC) at the Vicksburg Convention Center was back this year after a hiatus due to COVID. Held from Feb. 18-20, the conference brought together teens from around the diocese for a weekend celebration with the theme “Encounter.”

Diocesan coordinator for the Office of Youth Ministry, Abbey Schuhmann said, “It has been two years since we were last able to gather as a diocese to celebrate our Catholic faith as one large community. It was our great hope that DCYC 2022 was a time to celebrate and encounter each other but more importantly to encounter Jesus Christ through the gift of our Catholic faith.”

VICKSBURG – Youth gather around “Encounter” weekend leader and Catholic hip-hop artist Joe Melendrez in prayer during the annual Diocesan Catholic Youth Conference (DCYC) held at the Vicksburg Convention Center from Feb.18-20. (Photos by Abbey Schuhmann)

Youth were able to do just that with keynote presenter and recording artist Joe Melendrez, described as one of America’s most exciting Catholic performers. Melendrez got his start performing on MTV at age 15 and encountered the love of God shortly after. He has since dedicated his life to sharing the Good News and sharing the Gospel in unique ways – like his Catholic hip-hop style.

“Melendrez was a very dynamic and high energy presenter; his talks throughout the weekend were very interactive and powerful,” said Schuhmann. “Being a Catholic hip-hop artist, his music provided for very upbeat and entertaining sessions of worship that got all participants, young and old, on their feet and moving to the beat.”

On Saturday of the conference, diocesan vocations director, Father Nick Adam and Sister Kelly Moline, OP, a Dominican Sister of Springfield, Illinois and chaplain at St. Dominic’s Hospital in Jackson, along with diocesan seminarians led a session on discernment on Saturday afternoon. They challenged each participant to continue to seek God’s will in their life and to continue to be open to His call, said Schuhmann.

Other activities during the “Encounter” weekend included small group sessions, games, Mass, Reconciliation, Adoration and a concert with Melendrez on Saturday evening. The weekend concluded with Mass celebrated by Bishop Joseph Kopacz and the presentation of the Bishop Chanche Youth Service Awards to six youth from around the diocese.

This was the fourth year that the conference was held in Vicksburg. Groups from twelve parishes representing five of the six deaneries were in attendance this year. Schuhmann says that plans are already underway for the 2023 conference and invites youth from around the diocese to encounter Christ.

For more information about events sponsored by the Office of Youth Ministry please contact coordinator, Abbey Schuhmann. 601-949-6934 or