I spent this past weekend leading the Encounter With Christ retreat, which takes place once every semester. The retreat is pretty much an intense, action-packed spiritual journey and it was amazing. The setup of the retreat involves multiples talks, lots of small group reflection time, prayer services, and a few other major elements like reconciliation and Mass.
My specific position on the retreat was Assistant Student coordinator, which means that I was in charge of the support team that handles the logistical aspects of the retreat. I also presented a talk titled “In Service of God’s Friendship” that discussed the importance of pouring out our lives for the people around us and working to see Christ in every person, as difficult as that may sometimes be. All in all, I devoted a TON of hours toward this retreat in the weeks and months leading up to it. In the end, it was totally worth it.
I’m bringing this up largely because it brought me back to my calling in amazing and refreshing ways. My mind was focused on God and I got to talk to so many people about my faith and the impact that the Lord has had on my life. I even spoke with my small group about my new vocation and the way that God’s timing is so mysterious and so beautiful. It was absolutely fantastic to be immersed in that mindset again, in a place where I felt so close to God.
As much as this weekend reminded me of the summer, there were a ton of differences as well, which have brought up some interesting questions. Obviously the maturity level difference from high schoolers to college students was super evident. The conversations I had felt more genuine and the people were much more open and willing to share without putting on that mask so many youth struggle with. Also, in giving my talk, I noticed such a difference in posture, eye contact, and understanding than I did giving reflections all summer. It was refreshing to see the way that the participants on Encounter were enthusiastic and thoughtful in so much of what they said.
I truly appreciated the summer and I find so much joy in thinking about being a youth minister, yet at the same time, this weekend was incredibly fulfilling, and the thought of working with young adults or even on a college campus is now something that is turning over in my mind.
I’m not saying, of course, that I have made a decision either way, but I definitely think that this weekend opened the door to a wider variety of possibilities. This is good in that I feel less limited, but it also makes an eventual decision more difficult with more options on the table.
The high school dynamic is so energetic, and youth are at such an important phase of faith development. I feel that God could do great things through me in this setting, and that I would find so much variety in the type of people I would meet.
College students who are looking for a minister or mentor have usually undergone significant changes through faith, and are often looking for something deeper and more real. They can be insightful and sincere in a way that many high school students cannot. I would have the challenging opportunity to go much deeper on a regular basis.
Whatever happens, I am grateful for what took place this weekend and the work that God did in me and so many people. Live the Fourth!
Today I turn around
Stop running away from Him.
Today I listen
And run toward.