By Luis Gomez
Welcoming the Theology of Body
There were 39 Saint Athanasius Life Teen (SALT) high school youth group members who attended the three-day Echoes of Worth retreat on the weekend of Martin Luther King Jr, Birthday in Scotts Valley, led by Deacon Leonel Mancilla and Pastoral Associate Rosa Mancilla. We stayed in charming cabins in the Santa Cruz Mountains to disconnect from the invasive distractions of technology and better connect with God. The theme of the retreat is Theology of the Body, which was new for many teens. It centered around the lectures given by Pope John Paul II during his papacy on the meaning of the Body and how it relates to the Eucharist. Through daily Mass, songs, prayer, workshops, and games, we were exposed to a plethora of knowledge pertaining to the new language of the Body and the virtue of chastity.
Connecting through Small Groups
While at the retreat, we engaged in small groups discussions to converse about the meaning of authentic friendship, the challenges of being a Catholic in a world where many relationships are rooted in lust rather than love, and the balance of power in relationships. “The small groups were a way for the guys to express their thoughts and opinions relating to what it means to be a man and how they are supposed to take the lead in a relationship,” said Pedro Ortiz, a SALT student who attended Echoes of Worth. He added that “God wants both man and woman to care for each other equally as they become one in marriage.” God put two people together in a relationship for a purpose in order to accomplish his will and bolster the relationship. The unity and oneness of a marriage mirrors that of the Eucharist.
Rediscovered the Beauty of Eucharistic Adoration
On our last night of the retreat, we were given the option to go to confession after the evening mass, followed by Eucharistic Adoration, which many agree was the highlight of the entire retreat. We had a chance to further connect ourselves with God in one of the most touching ways possible. We enjoyed the peace and tranquillity of Eucharistic Adoration that we experienced whilst singing alongside our group. Each and every individual present welcomed the presence of Jesus as we see His hand in tying together all of the topics and themes that were discussed over the weekend. Through the Echoes of Worth Retreat, we embarked on a new spiritual journey and experienced the oneness with God through Holy Eucharist and Eucharistic Adoration.
Thankful for the Retreat Experience
This retreat will not be possible without the support of Father Oscar, Father Paul, the leadership of Deacon Leonel and Rosa and the prayers and sponsorships of parishioners of Saint Athanasius Church. May God bless you and your family abundantly!