2017-11-03 / Worship

Journey retreat held in in Auburn

Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland

AUBURN

“Youth coming together in Christ is amazing.”

That is how Jacob Guillemette, age 16, from St. Thérèse of Lisieux Parish in Sanford describes what it’s like attending the annual Journey retreat.

“You can relax and be in a prayerful mood all weekend and, also, have the free time to hang out with friends of the same faith and be able to share something in common and to be able to talk about it,” he said.

Seventeen-year-old Maddie Prosack from St. Maximilian Kolbe Parish in Scarborough says Journey gives her an opportunity to step away and refocus.

“It is like the name. It is a journey. You come from school, and you’re stressed out in life, and then you come here, and it’s a wake-up call,” she said. “It helps you prepare yourself for the future, so I really like coming here.”

Jacob and Maddie were among 170 teenagers and adult chaperones from around the Diocese of Portland who gathered at St. Dominic Academy in Auburn from Oct. 28- 30 for Journey. Sponsored by the Office of Lifelong Faith Formation, the retreat is intended for high school youth who are seeking to grow and deepen their relationship with Jesus.

“We’re just really hoping that people take away a good relationship with God, get at least something out of this weekend that they can go home a different person, with maybe a different mindset,” said Patrick Carter, age 17, from St. Michael Parish in Augusta, who was one of the retreat’s emcees. “I think it’s very important for youth to be able to get away. I know, for me, in my personal experience, it’s great just to be able to come here and have adoration. It’s kind of like we’re recharging our batteries.”

“The thing that I really hope that young people take away from this weekend is to realize that God does speak to them because many times in our relationships with God, we do all the talking. We’ve done a lot of talking and reflecting this weekend on how does God speak to us and helping young people become comfortable with the silence,” explained Maureen Provencher, coordinator for youth and young adult ministry in the diocese. “Journey is a retreat which really allows us to go deeper into our spiritual lives and into our relationship with Jesus, to be transformed and to become more like him, and we need this in order to become better disciples in the world.”

Journey included Mass, adoration, prayer, the opportunity for the sacrament of reconciliation, talks, and small group sessions. This year’s theme was “Will you let me love you?" and talks and discussion topics included “Will You Trust My Love?”; “Will You Listen For My Voice?”; “Will You Give Me Your Heart?” and “Will You Risk It All?” John Angotti, a music missionary who has traveled the world providing inspirational music and faith witness, was the featured presenter.

“I love all the talks and getting to hear from different perspectives, getting to hear from a priest, or a sister, or John Angotti, Maureen, anyone,” said Hallie Pike, age 16, from St. Rose of Lima Parish in Jay.

Bishop Robert P. Deeley also spent a morning with the teenagers, celebrating Mass with them. During his homily, the bishop told the young people that God has a plan for each of them, and it’s important that they take the time to stop and listen.

“He wants us all to be holy, to live according to the way he has shown us in Jesus’ life. We know ourselves as called to serve one another, to respect each other. Indeed, we are called to love one another. But, we are going to do those things in different ways depending on the vocation we live. The purpose of your time together this weekend is to help you to know your vocation. What is it that God wants for you?” the bishop said. “God does speak in many ways. Be open to what people speak to you. Listen to your heart but listen, as well, to those who care about you. Jesus chooses the twelve. God calls me, and he calls each of you to a particular vocation in life, to a particular way in which he calls you and me to live in his love.”

After Mass, the bishop held a question and answer session, with topics that ranged from the spiritual, to siblings, to snacks!

One teenager wanted to know what the bishop does when he doesn’t feel close to God.

“When I don’t feel God’s closeness, that’s when I have to be close, so I go to the chapel and I spend time,” the bishop answered. “I spend some time with Scripture. I spend some time in God’s presence and try to calm my life down. Because, if I’m not feeling close to God, it means I’m beginning to act like God, and I’m beginning to take my life over.”

Another teen asked where the bishop draws his spiritual nourishment. He answered by pointing to all of them.

“I take seriously Jesus’ words, ‘When two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in your midst.' I have become very much aware that, when I’m in a group like this of faithful people who are striving to live their faith, that Jesus is here, and that’s beautiful, and it is so energizing for me. That’s where I draw great strength,” he said. “The greatest place where that takes place is where we gather as Church, as the family of God, to celebrate the Eucharist.”

In addition to the opportunity to grow in relationship with Christ, Journey is also a wonderful opportunity to build community. Friendships formed are often long-lasting, even if they’re among teens living hundreds of miles apart.

“It’s fun being with people who are my age, just being able to connect and also learn some more stuff about Jesus,” said Meghan Schupback, age 14, from the Parish of the Precious Blood in Caribou, who was attending Journey for the first time. “I really like the talks, and I like the Q & A with Bishop Deeley, and I really liked Mass with Bishop Deeley. I know it’s just Mass, but I really like singing and I really liked how it was all people my age. That was really fun.”

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