It’s a unique process being able to gather our youth community in this way. Not every parish has this sort of retreat available. Other parishes might get to attend bigger conferences like the Steubenville Youth Conferences or go to events available in their diocese, but a smaller retreat like this is a little different in its dynamics. Larger retreats give students the ability to see Catholicism and Jesus in a universal perspective. We gain outlook that our faith is personal but also greater than just our parish or our town.
Although experiencing the Lord in those contexts is inspiring, there is something intimate and deeper in coming to encounter God with people that we see everyday. For many of the high school students, that sort of intimacy with God roots them even more in their faith and it also deepens relationships with friends and classmates that they might not have had before. The relationships they can gain from these shared experiences is so valuable because we absolutely can not live our faith alone. We need others around to walk with us through our faith journey. Many of the lasting faith friendships that have pushed me to keep saying yes to God and loving Jesus even more were formed during these retreats when I was in high school.
Since the fruits of this retreat are so important, often times there is a lot of spiritual warfare that comes before a retreat. The evil one likes to spin many lies to students to put obstacles in their path during the retreat or lead them away from the retreat. There can be a fear of what others might think of them (I’m not holy enough for this), a fear of being out of place or uncomfortable, general anxiety of what it could be like, a worry of being disappointed, etc. Those lies or fears can really imprison some of them to not go on the retreat, or hold back throughout the weekend.
While consulting some of our young adult team as well as during my own time praying for this retreat, I have felt that there is an even greater need for intercession for this retreat. So I intentionally wanted to invite our greater parish community to support the building up of our youth community for the weekend of November 22-24. For any of you that know a high school student that would benefit from this sort of weekend please encourage them, but more importantly I am asking you to pray for us! When we intercede as a community we can break any sort of imprisonment that the evil one might bring.
Specifically, in Acts 12:5-17 the early church took intercession to the next level!! Peter was caught and imprisoned by Herod’s guards and the odds of him getting out looked pretty bad. Peter not only had two soldiers right outside of his prison door, but he also was bound with two chains and had a guard directly to the right and left of him. There looked like no possible way to gain freedom for Peter. Instead of despairing or resorting to hopelessness, the early church FERVENTLY PRAYS for Peter’s freedom. God the Father sees his people crying out for the release of their leader and he can not hold back in breaking through miraculously! So an angel of the Lord is sent to Peter, and shines his light through the prison. This light breaks the shackles binding Peter and then the angel leads him safely out of the prison.
The fervent and consistent intercession of a community can bring about the miraculous power of God! I ask that all of you can bring that same intercession for us to bring about the freedom that God wants for every one of our students. Our community is capable of great things with God's help and I can't wait to share what God does over the weekend!
God Bless, Corey