PORTLAND — The Maine Catholic Youth Convention, traditionally a weekend gathering of Maine teens from Aroostook County to York County, will move online for 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but it still promises to be a great event celebrating the faith and gifts that young people bring to the life of the church, according to a news release from Dave Guthro, communications director, Roman Catholic Diocese of Maine.

“The Catholic Youth Leadership Team has been working hard at trying to create an event that has traditionally been a three-day gathering into a two-hour gathering,” said Shawn Gregory, coordinator of youth ministry for the Diocese of Portland, according to the release.

That free gathering will now be presented virtually from 10 a.m. to noon Sunday, July 26. High school youth (those entering ninth grade through recent high school graduates), youth ministers, and families are encouraged to attend.

The virtual convention will feature a live-streamed Mass celebrated by Bishop Robert Deeley, music, presentations, prayer, and much more.

Though the event is free, a donation to the Catholic Appeal at portlanddiocese.org/Appeal is suggested for families looking to support the event and the Office of Lifelong Faith Formation, both made possible by the Appeal.

Two ways are being offered to young people who wish to participate in the virtual convention.

“The first option allows you to watch live on July 26 and interact with others who are participating in this live event from their parishes or the comfort of their own homes,” said Hannah Gonneville, assistant coordinator of the Diocese of Portland’s Office of Lifelong Faith Formation. “The second option will be to watch a recorded version of the convention that teens can view with their parish youth ministry at a date and time that works best.”

Registration is simple. Participants need only to email Shawn Gregory at [email protected]. He will send the appropriate link (live or recorded) to the participants.

“COVID-19 has challenged us to look at things differently,” said Lori Dahlhoff, director of the Office of Lifelong Faith Formation. “But our faith unites us, our hope lifts us, and our love sustains us. It will be wonderful to gather virtually and celebrate being Catholic in our faith, hope, and love.”

“I pray that the faith of the young people participating will be strengthened through this unique convention experience,” said Deeley. “Even virtually, I think these young people will deepen their appreciation of what believing means and what a difference it makes in the way they live. The Church has always been blessed with the presence of young people alive in faith and eager to serve the Lord Jesus.”

For more information, visit portlanddiocese.org.