Wow. That's the impression I have a day after the retreat of a lifetime. It was wonderful. The amazing leaders, Erin and Andrew: thank you for providing a great witness of what an amazing married vocation can look like when God is in the center; Brooke-for being a wonderful leader that the youth adored; Liz, Ashley, and Christine- you all did awe-inspiring jobs with your Spirit-led leadership as first-time peer leaders. It was a wonderful, wonderful, wonderful retreat with 52 10th grade students. No one was sent home, no one got hurt, no one acted less-than-average, no one "fell asleep" or was bored with a talk, no one was disrespectful, no one seemed to be having a bad time... what more could a youth minister ask for, right?
Well, not only were these 10th grade students wonderful in respect, action, and reaction; the first night's closing prayer, ALL 52 students repeated and professed the prayer "Come Holy Spirit". Now, this was completely optional to repeat after me, only if they were willing to grow deeper, lean into Christ, and be open,honest and real.... and they all did it with conviction. It was spine-tingling wonderful!
So Saturday morning came, and I was nervous. Are they going to behave? Am I going to have to send someone home? Will they gain anything spiritually from this retreat? Is there enough free time that they so much crave for (due to last year, apparently "ALL they did was hang out in their cabins and chill")? Will this retreat be enough to ignite their hearts and give them something MORE to crave?
Simple answers to all: YES. Before the day even began with the retreatants, I spent some time with God, praying and conversing with Him, asking His Spirit to come down and truly touch each one of the talks, activities, prayers, and meal times. Oh God is good, all the time! That Holy Spirit swept in to each youth... now, how do I know this? Well, besides the great amounts of energy, the fact that a few of us left with no voices from praise, prayer, and conversations...but the best proof that the youth had a spiritual renewal was in the evaluations....Not ONE eval was below average. In fact from a 1 to 10 (10 being the BEST!), we only received one 6, 3 7's, 2 8's, and the rest were either 9 or 10! But here were some comments!
"By far my favorite retreat. I felt myself growing into my faith with every activity we did. I loved it"
"Kym is amazing. She's fun and funny and is someone I look up to. She has great ideas about faith and is a reat leader for us."
"I seriously loved this retreat. In How the Grinch Stole Christmas, his great grew 10 sizes too big, I'm pretty sure that's how I grew in my faith this weekend."
"The weekend was really fun. I'm so glad that now, after we leave we don't just have confirmation classes, we actually have other groups to go and take those steps towards increasing our faith."
"This retreat inspired my spirit and helped me to love my Lord more than before."
"Before this retreat, I felt like I had turned my back to God, but this retreat turned me back to Him. I rate this retreat a 9 because it was a great balance of fun and learning and you made it so that we could understand it."
"Before this retreat, I felt like my faith was just there, but I didn't really think anything of it." Kym gave a talk on Baby steps and Adults steps in our faith. That was my favorite talik because before this retreat I wasn't even really at baby steps, but now I'm almost at adults steps!"
" I loved Ashley's talk because I learned that God hsa to be farther up on my priority list!"
"I loved this retreat. I thougth it was better than last year's. Because I learned more about my faith in 3 days than I did in the first 15 years of my life. Thanks St. Henry's for helping us grow in our faith."
"This retreat was amazing. The 10th graders next year should looke forward to it. I got a lot of out it and wouldn't want to change it."
Ok, so seriously those are only like the first ones I flipped to...each evaluation has something impactful to say on its own. I truly hope my parish can soon find the understanding of the importance of real faith being shared, action-based activities, peer ministry, and the awesome importance of being on retreats and youth ministry activities.
So the Holy Spirit really did shine down on us this weekend and I would love to thank each person out there who prayed for us!
Thanks and God Bless, Kym