This year's retreat was centered on the encounter of Christ with the woman at the well in John 4. Toward the beginning of the weekend, the teens were sent on a perilous journey from "Judea" to "Galilee." Meanwhile, a well was constructed in the middle of the main room. For the rest of the weekend, our talks were given surrounding the well in "Samaria."
In the beginning of John 4, it says that Jesus went from Judea to Galilee and "had to pass through Samaria." In reality, Samaria was not on the way. Why did he have to pass through? Because of His desire to encounter the woman of Samaria and to invite her to receive His love. Our first talk centered on the unique and unrepeatable love that Christ has for each person. We also talked about the beautiful way in which God uses particular people, particular times, particular circumstances to bring us to Him. In short, God has a particular plan for each of us that He invites us to receive.
Saturday morning began with quiet reflection on John 4, followed by a talk about the Eucharist as the source of the well. We also learned about the meaning and necessity of a water -- a concept that is somewhat lost in our current culture and situation. How does Jesus continue to fill us at the well? By giving of Himself in the Eucharist, the source and summit of our faith.
We didn't simply talk about the importance of the Eucharist, however. We were then able to attend Mass together in the retreat center chapel. Fr. Adam Puntel's homily fit perfectly with the theme thus far.
In the early afternoon, we had a panel of four seminarians who answered questions about prayer and discernment. There were a lot of laughs, some note-taking and plenty of food for thought, as the seminarians witnessed to the importance of prayer and cultivating a desire for prayer.
Later in the afternoon we had men's and women's sessions dedicated to a masculine or feminine approach to prayer and the Eucharist. I can't speak for the men's session, but I do know that the women's session focused on the application of John 4 to our personal lives, as well as growing in our ability to receive.
After dinner, we had a talk in the chapel about Christ's thirst for us. We often talk about our desire for God, but we don't always consider that He desires us as well. This was the perfect lens through which to view confession and Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, which took place
during the remainder of the evening. Throughout the night there was also an opportunity for students to spend a half-hour in prayer in front of the Blessed Sacrament.
On Sunday morning we had a final talk to send us forth on the journey. The woman at the well left her water jug at the well, went into the town and told everyone about the Christ. What does that mean for us?
After Mass with Fr. Kyle Schnippel, we were ready to be sent forth, in a similar way to the woman at the well. Ready with renewed realization that we can only give when we are receiving God's love, we walked away knowing that Christ desires to encounter us daily.
It was a whirlwind weekend! There were also games, sports, a talent show (a yearly highlight!) and opportunities for conversation. The retreat aims to be a blend of talks, small group discussion, silent personal reflection and fun. It continues to be a gift to serve the teens in Kenosis. Their faithfulness and desire for Christ teaches all of the adults in ways they probably don't realize.
So, thank you for your prayers. It was a fruitful weekend.