Introspection, communication, personal growth. All these and more were important themes at last weekend’s Day of Reflection youth retreat at Camp St. Johns. Nineteen Hispanic teenagers dedicated their Saturday to “experience Christ” The single-day retreat was based on the “Experiencia Cristo” Hispanic retreat that is offered by the diocesan Youth and Young Adult Ministry three times a year.
The day was divided into three parts: an encounter with oneself, an encounter with Jesus and a commitment to Jesus and others. Young adults from parishes across the diocese led the retreat, along with Norma Garcia, diocesan coordinator of multicultural youth and young adult ministry, Father Manuel Puga of Christ the King Parish in Jacksonville, and missionary Sister Isabel Fejervary of the Company of the Savior.
Between confessions, games, and small groups, volunteer leaders gave various talks which explored subjects such as the importance of self-reflection, how to communicate openly with others, how to connect with Jesus through the veneration of Mary, and how to discern God’s calling to his kingdom.
Sister Isabel shared a testimony-based reflection called, “All This, For Me?” to teach young people how God gives us total freedom to love him without asking for anything in return. All he asks is that we are faithful to him.
Father Puga’s talk focused on the church during the current pandemic, reflecting on how the church is not a place, but rather a community.
“As the church, we are called to serve each other and to celebrate as people of God that brings to society a message of love,” he said.
The final reflection was given by Norma Garcia, which centered around being a missionary disciple today. She emphasized that being Catholic in today’s society is a 24/7 job. The teens then reflected on the Emmaus Road passage , followed by a fruitful discussion comparing the story to our society today.
“We are called to fulfill our baptismal calling of prophets, kings, and priests. We need to take concrete steps, as did the apostles to build the kingdom of God,” said Garcia. “We called are to go forth and to live and seed the love of God among all men and women. We are called to commit to Jesus in the creation of a better society, a society of love and brotherhood between all men. Each participant is called to commit to Jesus and His Kingdom.”