When the F2F team arrived in Brooks for the F2F youth retreat we found ourselves in a very familiar environment. Throughout the past seven years we have facilitated several youth retreats in this very same school. I might add they have all been fantastic and the staff and students of St. Joseph’s Collegiate have always been warm and welcoming. They have also demonstrated an intense passion for youth and through example have lead many to a closer relationship with Christ.
As we entered this friendly school we noticed some differences in the front entrance of the school. Spread out through the entire front foyer were several displays all formed around the same word; ‘Stand.’ Stand for the truth, Stand for your faith and stand up for expressing yourself were just of the few messages communicated by these displays. As we entered into the youth retreat I think this word lingered as a theme throughout the weekend. “We stand with arms high and heart abandoned,” are lyrics from the song The Stand. The emotioin of this song allowed the young people to truly abandon their hearts to the message of Jesus that Ken shared in every one of his talks.
We all learned this message of Jesus. We are all created for a purpose. We are all created to know God, love God, serve God and share in his eternal glory. Our sin has separated us from what we are created for, yet God is openly, passionately and freely calling us back to him though the sacrament of Reconcilliation. He created us as a masterpiece. It was His love for us that held him to the cross and he wants us all to accept and experience that love. All we have to do is say yes. As we came before the presence of Jesus in adoration several young people stood up and said that ‘yes’ to the love of God.
16 year old retreatant Brendan Spiess summed up the entire weekend very well when he shared: “You know when you get that awesome feeling that you are just loved, it was awesome.”