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Students Strengthen their Faith at Diocesan Retreat

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(l-r) Elena Ajluni ’17, Alexis Carles ’17, Chiara de Leon ’18, Adriana Donkers ’17, Emma Tillman, Abby Walsh ’18, Bella Walsh ’18 and Emma Walsh ’20.

This summer, several Notre Dame High School students participated in the annual Diocesan Youth Retreat, sponsored by the Diocese of San Jose’s Youth and Young Adult Ministry. Here is a reflection by one of the attendees, Chiara de Leon ’18, peer ministry leader.

This past summer, I attended the Diocesan Youth Retreat (DYR), which teens from all the Catholic parishes in the Diocese of San Jose are invited to attend. The week-long getaway at Zephyr Point in Lake Tahoe took place in mid-June and had more than 100 participants, not including staff. The retreat theme was “Be [ ]” and each day, the brackets were filled with an encouraging word, like Be [Loved] or Be [Free].

I had never been to DYR before, even though all the teens at my parish said the event was something I absolutely had to experience. I didn’t know what to expect, but once I got to Lake Tahoe, I wasn’t disappointed. Every day started with praise and worship songs and a talk by our keynote speaker, Father Agustino Torres. Later we transitioned into small groups and had some time for recreation. Each day featured special activities including a scavenger hunt and water games.

The main focus on the retreat was the growth of each person’s relationship with God. One of the highlights was a sunset Mass by the lake. The beauty of the lake was amplified by the beauty of the Mass. Each person was immersed in prayer and celebration. I felt that God was with us. The same night we had confession and Eucharistic Adoration. I cannot express how beautiful and awesome it was to see so many people my age moved at the realization that they were loved and perfect in the eyes of Jesus. For me, the experience made me see how important I am in the eyes of God, and it brought me closer to my friends on the retreat. The last day ended with Mass by the lake and the human wall of purple t-shirts emblazoned with the retreat theme was inspiring. I was sad to leave, but at the same time I felt so refreshed and blessed to have been part of this experience. Before this retreat, I didn’t really have a strong relationship with God, but DYR reminded me that my relationship with Him is the best one I’ll ever have.