Youth 2000…2012

Today wrapped up another amazing Youth 2000 retreat.  Clearly from the picture above, the gym was packed with youth from all over the diocese and from places as far away as The Woodlands (near Houston)!  
This is my fifth time going on a Youth 2000 retreat.  I went thrice (SCORE! I can use the word “thrice” legitimately in a sentence) during high school: once junior year, twice senior year where one was local and another one in San Angelo, TX.  My fourth time, I went as a chaperone a year ago and …I chaperoned again this time too!
Gosh, I think my parish brought mmmmmmm….100+ youth?  Pretty big group.  Relatively speaking.  
What I love about this retreat is Jesus is there.  Like, the whole time.  They’re not joking when they say it is a Eucharistic-centered retreat.  Not only that, but the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal MC the retreat and give talks as well, and they are just a fun bunch of hardcore Catholic religious men who offer fantastic insight.    And let’s not forget the two Franciscan sisters as well!  They’re so cool.  I love how a good chunk of my parish’s youth have befriended many of them.
When I went Youth 2000 in high school, it was more…for me, personally.  And now that I’m going as a chaperone, I have a different perspective.  It can kind of be represented in the picture above.  I can see from an outside perspective on how the retreat and Jesus Christ Himself is affecting the youth, and it reminds me a lot of the times I went during high school.  
I love seeing the healing that this retreat can bring because sometimes the life of a high schooler is really, really tough and just knowing that Jesus can bring forgiveness and healing does miraculous wonders for them who are open to it and need it.  
And not only that, but it’s really cool to see how this retreat inspires high school students to consider religious vocations.  Really cool stuff.  The Church needs people to answer the call.
Some cool things I witnessed:
  • I led a small group during breakout sessions, and in getting to know some of the guys in my group, I was moved by listening to how their Catholic faith is a part of their lives. Some of my guys are from rough neighborhoods or have broken family situations but it was just cool for me to hear them talk about their Catholic faith in a way that helps strengthen them and overcome whatever they’re dealing with.  Legit.  Not only that, a few also offered deep insight which I wasn’t expecting!
  • Oh man.  It was really awesome to see some of my parish’s youth serve at retreat whether as part of the Mass or as an altar server.  We were well-represented at Youth 2000 happenings.  Even myself…I led a decade of the Rosary in Tagalog (Filipino) during the International Rosary.
  • Seeing the smiles on the faces of youth after they had gone to Confession
  • Saturday night at our before-we-get-on-the-bus meeting, we sang the Salve Regina and it was really beautiful
  • Fr. Agostino, CFR, gave a really awesome talk!  As a Filipino, I can appreciate the integration of cultural jokes…even Hispanic ones.  Haha.
  • Sitting with one of my students on the bus ride home Saturday night, I could tell that Adoration and Jesus’ Procession was very impactful…and I’ll leave it at that
  • GOD MOMENT:  When Fr. Luke referenced a passage from Revelation and then there was a huge boom of thunder…and…there was a verse regarding thunder.  Can’t make this stuff up!
  • It was pretty cool awesome to see a good handful of our youth stand up acknowledging that they’re open to the idea of pursuing a religious life
  • Right now, our youth ministry’s Facebook page is exploding with such awesome feedback regarding the retreat.  😀
Anyway, personally…I needed this retreat too.  I had some things that I needed to pray about.  And it was awesome sharing this experience with my fellow chaperones and our youth.  Cool stuff.  The Holy Spirit is definitely on fire in the hearts of many youth after this weekend.  Can’t wait til next time!

Faith. Hope. Charity.  Beards pointing to Jesus.
– JR