At the beginning of this year, I believe that the Lord instilled a new sense of faith in me. I have loved and believed in God for quite a long time now, but there was sometimes an obstacle holding me back from having total dependence on Him. I have always known it was there, but just chalked it up to something that had to be healed in me. At a healing conference I went to last January, I finally understood that obstacle and that area of healing that I needed. It was really a place in my identity that needed shifting. An absolute belief that I am first and foremost a daughter of the Heavenly Father and that I have an inheritance and worth that is unending and untainted. This is something I always knew in my head, but something that never transferred to my heart. At that conference it finally transferred and brought healing. Since going to this healing conference, I have not only seen a shift in myself but also in my fellow staff members. Although we didn’t all go to this conference, we shared this new vision of being able to boldly ask our heavenly Father for an outpouring of healing, signs, and miracles in the ministry we have at the parish.
Now why I bring this up, is because I believe that we are experiencing a beautiful shift in our parish where we are starting to call upon the Lord more in expectant faith and receiving huge outpourings of the Holy Spirit and this shift has been pouring itself into the youth ministry program as well. In the last year I have seen huge responses in the youth of our parish participating in the things that we offer.
2016- High School Retreat: 48, Mission Wixom: 7, Steubenville: 106, Mission: Flint: 10
2017- High School Retreat: 60, Mission Wixom: 8, Steubenville: 95, Mission: Flint: 10
2018- High School Retreat: 70, Mission Wixom: 24, Steubenville: 75, Mission: Flint: 26
Numbers don’t explain everything and they definitely don’t describe the stories that are behind the numbers of youth who experienced the retreats, but I think that we can still get a good idea of a shift in what’s been happening over the last year especially. There’s some slight differences between 2016 and 2017. Similar numbers in the Mission retreats, and then slightly less kids going to Steubenville and slightly more kids going to the H.S. Retreat. From 2017 to 2018 there are pretty major shifts in all the retreats across the board, with an exception of a lot less kids choosing to go to Steubenville. In addition to those increases in numbers, we also added more things to our schedule which included the Diocesan Youth Conference and our Spring Break Trip. These increases in numbers and interests in these retreats are evidence of a growing hunger that our youth have to encounter their Heavenly Father in a real and dynamic ways. Over the last year, I have had more and more faith that the Lord will provide these encounters, for our youth and He has come through in providing powerful healing and in outpouring different gifts of the Holy Spirit such as joy, peace, etc.
During the High School Retreat weekend, I started to really understand and step into the changes in myself as well as knowing that the Lord was going to do show us Himself in a very real and powerful way. There has been other retreats that I have put on where I’ve been so wrapped up in my own inadequacies that I haven’t been able to really engage without worry or anxiety. This year (not that there wasn’t anxiety beforehand, because there was!!) I actually felt so much more relieved stepping into Camp Roger’s main hall and starting the weekend, because of this new faith that the Lord would provide despite whatever wasn’t perfectly planned. I definitely felt a resistance overall to what the Lord wanted for the weekend, so on Friday night I was really tempted to give into fear and worry about things not being good enough, but instead of feeding those I just powered through it. The next morning really changed everything. I got a text from someone who participates in our prayer ministry that was interceding for the retreat over the weekend. She said that she got a sense that the Lord was going to bring huge “breakthrough” over the weekend and that this word in particular was what kept coming to her when she was praying for us. Immediately when I read the text, I just felt a huge wave of peace. The Holy Spirit was in that message and I felt very called to tell my team of young adults about it. We had a meeting and I shared this word and all of them seemed to respond in excitement to this word shared by the Spirit. Over all of Saturday, it seemed as though that word kept coming up in my conversations with kids, in the talks, and especially in adoration. During adoration, before Father Dennis processed around the room with the blessed sacrament, he spoke into exactly what was going on. He said that he was receiving images from the Lord that major chains were being broken in the room and that the Lord was outpouring a huge amount of BREAKTHROUGH out to people. I felt that happening in the room. I’ve been to a lot of retreats before, but I have to say that this was the BIGGEST outpouring of the Holy Spirit that I have ever seen on one of these things. There were a lot of kids that encountered the power of God and started to take part in that overall shift that they too can have expectant faith that God will actually respond to them in ways they can see and understand. Even though this is still one of the most powerful outpourings of God on a H.S. Retreat that I have seen, I believe that the Lord has even greater places to take our retreats, our youth ministry, and our parish, and I’m even more encouraged and excited to see how the Lord will keep working throughout the year of 2018-2019!!