Emily Wilson and Singer Ike Ndolo headline 2018 Abbey Youth Festival

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Registration is now open for Abbey Youth Festival, the largest youth event within the Archdiocese of New Orleans. Abbey Youth Festival (AYF) takes place Saturday, March 17th on the grounds of Saint Joseph Abbey and Seminary College, located at 75376 River Road in Covington, LA 70457. AYF is open to high school students ages 13 or older, who will be celebrating this year’s theme, “Arise,” in honor of the Feast of St. Patrick. Visit www.abbeyyouthfest.com for more information. College students and young adults are welcome to apply to serve as volunteers.

AYF, which draws thousands from throughout the Southern U.S., provides young people with an opportunity to experience a day of prayer and faith formation with exposure to the Benedictine tradition. Its focus is evangelization and vocational discernment by means of liturgy, prayer, worship, music, and education. New to AYF this year will be a Eucharistic Miracles Exhibit highlighting and featuring content developed by Servant of God Carlo Acutis, an Italian teenager, who died of fulminant leukemia when he was only 15 years old.

Also for the first time, AYF is seeking sponsorships to help it continue the mission of evangelization and formation to teens. The response to the call for support for this year’s festival has already been answered by many businesses and dioceses, including the Catholic Diocese of Victoria in Texas, whose assistance is a testament to the impact AYF has on young people. To view all our current sponsors or to find out how to become one, please visit www.abbeyyouthfest.com/ministry-partnership/#sponsors.

Emily Wilson, internationally recognized speaker, author, and musician, will make her first appearance at AYF, where she will serve as emcee as well as lead the women's breakout session. Wilson has spoken and played music at dozens of national and international youth and young adult events in two dozen states and numerous countries, including diocesan, parish, and school events, as well as Life Teen conferences, Steubenville conferences, the National Catholic Youth Conference, and the Australian Catholic Youth Festival. She published her first book, I Choose the Sky, in 2016 and will release Go Bravely: Becoming the Woman You were Created to Be, this April.

Ike Ndolo, who was born in Missouri after his parents moved to the U.S. from Nigeria, will also perform at this year’s festival. Ndolo’s influences stem from the hymns heard from his mother and songs of struggle and freedom from Bob Marley and everything in between. In 2009 he released his first record, We are the Beggars. Produced by songwriter and producer Robbie Seay, the album climbed to number four on the Christian iTunes charts. His sophomore record, Rivers, is out now.

Additional 2018 presenters and musicians include: 

  • Opening keynote from Fr. Brad Doyle, priest of the Diocese of Baton Rouge
  • Dr. Tom Neal, Director of Lay Formation Programs and Professor of Theology at Notre Dame Seminary, who will give a breakout session for youth ministers
  • Dr. Chris Baglow, Professor of Theology at Notre Dame Seminary and nationally recognized author and speaker on faith and science, will also present a breakout session
  • Austin Ashcraft, Director of Youth Ministry at Our Lady of the Lake Catholic Church in Mandeville, who with Joe Bass of the Office of Evangelization for the Diocese of Baton Rouge, will present the men’s session talk, "Why Being a Virtuous Man is Better Than Being a Jerk!”
  • Homilist Fr. Colm Cahill of St. Peter’s Parish in Covington
  • Fr. Bryce Sibley, priest of the Diocese of Lafayette, who will give the final keynote address
  • Margaret Baglow and Cameron Vidal, local high-school seniors, who will lead breakout sessions for teens
  • The Vigil Project, a community of musicians featuring seasoned singer/songwriters and worship leaders

Online, pre-event registration is open now through March 9th. Registration for youth and adult laity is $40 per person. Priests, deacons, and seminarians are invited free of charge. Young adults are invited to pre-register as volunteers.  On-site check-in and registration begin at 8 a.m. on March 17th at the cost of $50. The AYF field will be open from 9:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Information and online registration can is available at www.abbeyyouthfest.com