Young adults on retreat, snowbound and faith-filled


yyaretreat-webParticipants and leaders at the Young Adult Retreat at the St. Pius X Spiritual Life Center, Blackwood, on Feb. 5-7 gather for a photo. The theme was “Discover the gifts that God has given you.”

BLACKWOOD — With the threat of snow looming in the forecast, 45 young adults made their way to St. Pius X Spiritual Life Center here to participate in the Young Adult Retreat, and, as the Feb. 5-7 weekend was themed, “Discover the gifts that God has given you.” The impending winter storm would not wipe out their desire to become better stewards of God, or their chance to gather in communion with other like-minded, Catholic young adults.

Partially funded by the Camden Diocese Offices of Community Relations and Lifelong Faith Formation-Young Adult Ministries, the event was led by Msgr. Michael Mannion, Diocesan director of the Office of Community Relations, and Andres Arango, director of the Office of Young Adult Ministry, along with 10 other young adult leaders.

As the first few snowflakes began falling on Friday night, the first ones of a storm that wouldn’t stop until Saturday evening, Msgr. Mannion reminded everyone that, like the snowflakes, no two people are the same, but when brought together, something beautiful can take place.

Throughout the weekend, participants heard Scripture, personal stories, and reflections from leaders, shared faith experiences in small groups, and even had time to play in the snow.

J.D. Hull, of Merchantville, the musical director for the weekend, found the experience a “great chance to connect with people. It was fulfilling to see people (with like-minded values) have such enthusiasm.”

“We’re not the future of the church. We’re the present. It’s up to us.”

“It was enjoyable, a learning experience,” said Woodbury’s Kera Brady. “It enabled me to get closer to the Lord, and make fellowship with other Christians.”

Arango echoed Brady’s sentiments, citing the “sense of community that we built over the weekend. On Friday, some people were afraid, nervous (about what to expect). But Sunday was beautiful, everyone felt like brothers and sisters.”

He believes the two-plus feet of snow in Blackwood contributed to the group bonding at the end of the retreat, with everyone picking up snow shovels and digging out each other’s cars, and in some cases pushing the cars out of the snow. Phone numbers were exchanged, as well as best wishes for safe driving.

“There, you see some of the fruits of the retreat,” Arango said “Young adults inspired to go out and share the word, and love, of Christ.”

The Diocese of Camden is organizing a Kairos retreat for youth on March 12-14. For information on this retreat or other activities and events for youth or young adults, call 856-583-2878.