The 2014 Spring Retreat took place last weekend and was a great time of renewal for many of our young people! We traveled to the DeSales Center in Brooklyn, MI with 25 high schoolers and 5 adult leaders for a weekend of prayer, reflection, activities, friend-making, and relaxation. Below is a summary of the retreat theme/activities as well as some pictures of our time together.
Theme- Little christs
The theme of our retreat was "Little Christs" and the content focused on what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. The scriptural backbone of the content was John 13:34-35, where Jesus teaches his disciples to love one another and to be recognized by that love! While writing the retreat, we drew a lot of inspiration from Pastor Craig Groeschel of LifeChurch.tv and a series of videos he did for Switch Youth Ministry. You can watch those videos here on Youtube.
Session 1- "Disciples Love Like Jesus"
In our first session adult team member Sarah broke open John 13:34-35 and introduced us to the concept of discipleship. We also talked about redemption and how it is never too late to let the goodness of Christ shine out of us--- this was illustrated by a scene of Vadar's Redemption from Return of the Jedi. We then broke into small group to talk about the obstacles that prevented us from loving other people.
Session 2- "Disciples Love Others"
In session two adult team members Kate and Jodi taught us about SPLAGCHNIZOMAI (greek?) and how compassion is a movement "from the bowels" (or a gut feeling) that propels us to action! We learned how Jesus, and later his followers, were experts in showing this raw form of compassion to those that they encountered. We also explored historical characters like Miep Gies and Sarah Pownall to learn what this type of compassion has looked like in more recent times. Following this session was a structured reflection time where participants could do Bible study, go on a meditation walk, journal, or chapel sit while reflecting on how they may be called to show more splagchnizomai in their own lives.
Session 3- "Disciples Let Others Love Them"
In session three the youth minister, Chris, talked about how the early Christian community was known to always be meeting in people's houses and would eat, pray and work with one another-- that they never believed that the Christian life was something that could be lived alone. He broke this open and explained that as disciples we have to "check in" with the community and let others know in what ways we need to be shown compassion. We then adapted an activity from Challenge Day that allowed the participants to non-verbally ask the group for help with a variety of different issues in their lives. We then prayed for these specific intentions in our small groups. Following the session, the adult members met one-on-one with participants to further break open the activity and offer support to anyone that needed it.
On Saturday evening we were joined by Fr. Ron for some time in the chapel. There was music provided by adult team member Sarah, reconciliation provided by the priests, time for journaling, prayer with the adult team members, and numerous meditation activities for the participants to do during this time. Our reconciliation service and presentation by Fr. Ron focused on the unconditional love of God and was illuminated by the song "Unconditional" by Katy Perry and the story of the Prodigal Son from Luke's Gospel.
Session 4- "disciples Go Fishing"
For our final session adult team member Annie broke open Matthew 4:18-22 and a disciple's responsibility to go fishing for others. Each participant was able to write their personal prayer intentions on a paper fish which was later given to another participant for prayer support. Each participant was also given a bag of affirmation notes written to them by their peers and adult leaders. We then talked in small group about how to share the message of the retreat with our parents, siblings, and friends.
When we returned for 12:30 Mass on Sunday Fr. Manny was ready with a blessing of the students. We want to thank everyone in the parish for praying so hard during the retreat and for always being supportive of our young people! We also need to thank the adult team members who work tirelessly to evangelize our young saints. Finally, this ministry is IMPOSSIBLE without the support of parents-- the love you have for your young people is inspiring and I hope you realize how much love and respect this youth ministry staff has for you. Thank you for sharing your blessings with us and trusting us to play a part in your child's faith journey.
If you would like to know more specifics about the retreat theme, activities, or your teen's reaction to the retreat please contact me. Also, if your young person has not yet become involved in youth ministry at SJN, please contact me anytime. I can be reached at (734) 455-5910 x 20 or firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to speak with you more about this.
At last night's High School Youth Group meeting we explored the meaning and application of Forgiveness. We approached the topic apophatically with these principles of forgiveness:
I encourage parents to talk these over with their teen, and for each of us to reflect upon the people in our lives that we may need to forgive. Also, please remember that if you ever need someone to talk through a difficult situation with myself and the youth ministry team are here for you! All you need to do is ask.