Annual youth retreat drew hundreds closer to God

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    How fitting it was for the annual Holy Spirit Retreat for teens and young adults to conclude on the feast of the Epiphany, Jan. 6. Like the Magi, hundreds set out on a journey to find our Savior. During this weekend retreat held at the Landmark Hotel, the Holy Spirit revealed himself to those who sought him.

jordan    This year, I attended my third January retreat sponsored by Catholic Charismatic Renewal of New Orleans. The first time I attended was on invitation of one of my good friends, but I come back every year because I know that God wants to have an intimate relationship with me.
    This retreat offers dynamic praise and worship music, powerful testimonies, inspirational speakers and the opportunity to adore Christ in the Eucharist and receive the sacrament of reconciliation. The leaders and work crew put in countless hours preparing skits and planning the packed retreat schedule. The combination of their dedication and enthusiasm and enthusiasm of participants created a transformative experience where God’s presence and love flooded the room.
    This year’s schedule was different from previous retreats. On Friday, we had an intense adoration where God revealed himself to us in a very real way. I was excited after the day was over because I wasn’t expecting it to be so powerful so soon. In other years, I viewed the first day as more of a buildup to Saturday, when all the extraordinary gifts of the Holy Spirit came.
    Sean Stephens, a junior at Jesuit High School and third-time January retreat participant, said he felt bad for the kids who missed Friday night because it was so powerful.
    Joelle Lorenzo, a St. Mary’s Dominican High School junior, found the second night session equally as gripping.
     “I really loved Saturday night,” Lorenzo said. “The way they set up the prayer and music and prayer teams really helped me reconnect with God.”

teenccrno2    The retreat concluded on Sunday, but before the final blessing, Father Steve Bruno asked anyone who was at all considering giving his or her life to Christ by becoming priests, deacons or religious to come to the front of the room.
    Every year, the number of teens in that group, including some of my friends, gives me great joy. Father Bruno encouraged us all to search for “what God created us to be” instead of asking “what  should we be” as we remain open to his plan for our vocation. These young men and women revealed great faith that inspires me daily.
    I feel at home while on the retreat. The ability to devote a weekend solely to God gives me such peace and joy. The troubles of my teenage world disappear, and one thing remains – God.
    Every year God reaches out and touches the lives of all attending. My retreat experience has never been the same, but each enables greater growth. This local experience has led me to hunger for other similar opportunities such as traveling to Steubenville retreats every summer.    
    Faith opens the door to a deep, intimate relationship with God. This retreat was a perfect end to the Christmas season. As God directed the Magi to go home by another route, I seek to go back to the world changed for the better and strengthened in my faith.
    Jordan Lacoste is a junior at Jesuit High School in New Orleans.

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