We decided to push for this deeper experience by hosting a middle school encounter for MHT students this past spring (with plans to include religious education this coming year). The feedback from the students was amazing! Sometimes, students simply enjoy an opportunity to partake in activities outside of the normal classroom routines. However, this went above and beyond, with many students begging, constantly begging me to have more encounter times! Here are a few reflections from our students:
When we had the actual middle school encounter, it was just another chance to be closer to God at first. But when it started, I could feel God’s presence, showing once again, how much he loves us.
I was crying because God’s love broke down the wall between us.
The encounter at church lets me know that He answers us.
Someone started laughing, then more people, and at that point I asked God, “Lord, give me some of that.” I soon started laughing and experienced great joy. It seemed as if God was taking some stress off my shoulders, making it feel like God was carrying my cross.
On Friday, I rested in the Spirit. I remember going down and my prayer team gently set me on the ground. While I was resting, I could feel God’s peace and love as a hand on my head. God assured me of his love and peace for me.
After group prayer and prayer teams started, I started to feel like something deep down was nudging me. I got nervous because I was terrified to break into loud laughter or to rest in the Spirit. I felt restless, so I got into line for prayer teams. I kept my eyes on the Blessed Sacrament and just prayed to God for peace. Between school and three different sports, I had a lot to be anxious about. Life wasn’t so great at that time, especially since my relationship with God seemed one-sided. I never truly felt like God was there. I eventually got to go to a prayer team. I knew both of the people, which eased my uneasiness. Once we started praying, I began to cry. I never really felt like I had ever cried from such a deep down place. Once we finished praying, one of the people talked about God being with me. They also said I can go to God for my problems. I left the prayer team consoled.
I thought it was awesome! I would want to do one every month!
This year, as a parish, we plan to incorporate more encounter experiences through MHT School and our religious education program. We’ve witnessed amazing growth and transformations in our students that we want to continue to foster. We pray that these transformations will lead to more for our students! Please keep our parish students and the parish/school/religious education staff in your prayers.