Youth Retreat April 20-22, 2018

From 20 to 22 April, 2018 in Cherry Hill, a retreat took place for the third time for youth from middle schools and students, organized by the Little Servant Sisters and the Redemptorist Fathers. The retreat was conducted by Fr. Waldemar Latkowski, pastor from St. John Paul II Parish in Perth Amboy, NJ. Nineteen persons participated in the retreat mainly from New Jersey, but also from New York, Philadelphia and even two persons from Virginia. The theme of this retreat was Holy Scripture.

Saint Jerome wrote that “Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.” The conferences presented by Fr. Waldemar reminded us of the structure of the Bible. He explained what the inspiration was of the authors who wrote down the important events of God’s revelation. The Holy Bible is a letter from God to people, but the inspired author gave it his own style and conveyed a way of thinking of specific historical periods at the turn of Holy Scripture. The youth worked in groups. They responded to the following questions: “What is the Bible for me? Is it worth reading and why?” An inseparable element of the days of retreat was the Eucharist.

The liturgy of the Word of God led us to the Bread of Life. Just as the body needs nourishment, yes, a person needs strengthening to live well, to make good choices. The Word of God which leads to the knowledge of Christ also contributes to deepen the relationship with Him. A young person in particular needs enlightenment to make wise choices.  In the eyes of Jesus, each one of us is unique, beloved. Each is beloved and someone special.  God depends on me. I deeply believe that this time of prayer was a time of such experiences by these young people.

Fr. Waldemar mentioned various reasons die which it is worth to read Holy Scripture. It is above all the source of love for God, nourishment for faith, history of God’s action in the world, revelation of the power of God, school of prayer, principles for a good life, source of God’s wisdom, nourishment of daily life and way to holiness. On the example of Goliath and David, our combat is presented with problems and difficulties in life. This history shows how powerful is the one who faces difficulties with deep trust in God, who strengthens us. Father also encouraged the reading of the Holy Bible daily, for example for 10 minutes, using various applications of modern technology. He also suggested the courageous reading together in the family in a calm atmosphere.

The youth had the opportunity to participate in biblical drama. In four groups they presented the parable of the wise virgins and the foolish ones, about the talents, about the weeds and grain and the workers in the vineyard. Acting these parables in a modern way for man helped these young people more to understand how God is patient, just and generous in giving us.

During the Sunday Eucharist, the dignity of the Child of God was emphasized among the young participants of the retreat. Love cannot be based on fear. Happy is the one who feels loved. The mentality of a slave comes out in us just when prayer is a burden, and the weekly Sunday Holy Mass is an unpleasant duty. Happiness is to discover the love that God has loved me. It is from this very love that courage is born. Courage to do great things. Courage to be a saint.

             During the retreat there was also a lot of fun and games in the fresh air, as well as tasty sausage from the outdoor grill. The weather was fine. We all enjoyed nature awakening to life in the beautiful location of the convent of the Little Servant Sisters in Cherry Hill. I trust that this time of prayer, mutual enrichment will be a time of strengthening in the months to come of the persons who participated in it. We are already inviting young people to the next retreat, which will take place in the fall.

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Blessed Edmund Center
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