Veteran youth minister David Calavitta says it’s good to know about Jesus Christ — but it’s much better to actually know Him.

Helping teenagers get to know the Lord is the primary purpose of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles’ City of Saints Teen Conference, Aug. 4-6, at UCLA, he adds. Calavitta will serve as master of ceremonies for the event, and brings to his role a passion for introducing people to Jesus.

“I think often as Catholics, especially as teenage Catholics, we know about Jesus but we haven’t met Jesus,” he says. “The conference is designed to facilitate that introduction with Jesus Christ, as a person, not just as information. Information doesn’t always demand a response. But a personal encounter with Jesus? That demands a response.”

Calavitta has worked in Catholic youth ministry since 2000, and currently serves as director of marketing and graphic design for Life Teen International, a worldwide Catholic youth ministry with major offices in Atlanta, Phoenix, and St. Louis.

Calavitta credits Life Teen for helping him find Jesus within the Catholic Church. He has two older brothers who converted to evangelical Christianity from Catholicism, he says, alluding to the fact many evangelicals emphasize the importance of having a “personal relationship” with Jesus, and not just belonging to a church.

He adds that the youth ministers whom he encountered got him interested in his faith.

“When they met me, I wasn’t necessarily excited about Jesus and definitely not about Catholicism,” he says. “Through Life Teen I came in contact with the love of God, and that led me to get involved in serving youth.”

He adds that he believes City of Saints is part of God’s plan for the Catholic Church in California, a state rich in church history.

“I think teens living out a saintly life is a huge part of that happening,” he adds.

Although he stresses that, while nothing can replace the role individual parish youth ministries play in forming young Catholics, big events like City of Saints are important for them. Assembling in large numbers with other teenagers can do much to help a young person find the strength she or he needs to live out their faith in a world that doesn’t always support spiritual quests.

Full story at Angelus.