On January 28-29, 73 middle school students from 6 different parishes experienced an overnight retreat at Camp Maymac in Felton, CA. The parishes included Saint Catherine’s, Saint Lucy’s, Saint Martin of Tours, Sacred Heart, Queen of Apostles from the Diocese of San Jose and Saint Joseph Basilica Parish in Alameda, from the Diocese of Oakland. The retreat theme was “The Amazing Race,” with sessions entitled, “Mental Prep,” “Endurance,” “Hydrate,” and “Nutrition.”
The coordinators of the retreat, Youth Ministers from 8 different parishes including Saint Thomas Aquinas and Saint Simon, were inspired by Saint Paul’s writings – “Do you not know that the runners in the stadium all run in the race, but only one wins the prize? Run so as to win. Every athlete exercises discipline in every way. They do it to win a perishable crown, but we an imperishable one” (1 Corinthians 9:24-25).
The session speakers used the example of a runner in a race to emphasize what is most important for the middle schoolers to know for their “race” to heaven. This included knowing God had a plan for them to be on the retreat, and that although being a disciple isn’t easy, God gives His amazing grace to persevere towards the prize that lasts forever: His abundant love!
Megan Lott, Youth Minister at Saint Martin of Tours and speaker for the “Hydrate” talk, preceded an evening of confession. She explained how like a runner needs water during a race, so too disciples need to be reconciled with Jesus frequently. At one point in the evening, the room filled with voices singing “Lord I Need You” by Matt Maher as Deacon Matthew Murray processed around with the Blessed Sacrament to each person.
In addition to the sessions, the retreat was packed with small group discussions, praise and worship, and whole lot of messy games (shaving cream, paint, corn starch, etc)! The retreat concluded with a Mass presided by Father Robert from Sacred Heart for the participants and their parents.