Overnight youth retreat in Trenton one of energy, faith, spirit
By Diane Cardona | Special Contributor
Editor’s Note: Diane Cardona of St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral, Trenton, shares about the recent overnight retreat titled, “Because of Him,” which included young people from the Cathedral and St. Joseph Parish, Trenton.
The lock-in retreat hosted by Saint Mary Cathedral’s youth group, Jóvenes in Action (Young People in Action), proved itself to be a test of faith, not only for those receiving the retreat but also those in charge.
Young leaders, including myself, Paula Pardo and Janelyn Rodriguez had an event full of games, speakers and the presence of the Lord. Those who have worked in such events, especially with the youth, know that agendas are nothing more than paper with words, because at the end of the day, God has different plans for us all.
The beginning of our long night began with a prayer. We placed all of our doubts and exhaustion in the hands of the Lord. Matthew (Mateo) Greeley [diocesan associate director of the Office of Communications and Media] shared witness, which captivated the more than 60 young hearts from both parishes.
The night then proceeded with music by both youth music ministry Verbum Dei and Unción de Cristo. By this point, we were about four hours into the night, with eight more to go. We began to transition from fun to meditation and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, led by Msgr. Joseph L. Roldan, Cathedral rector.
We noticed a change in the overall environment of the room, as distractions began to take over, in addition to the already present need to sleep. At around 3 a.m. came the toughest battle to fight distractions. The choir led the group in singing “Bendito, Bendito” (Blessed, Blessed), when in that very instant, a blaring alarm began to sound. It seemed as though the incense had set off the fire alarm.
We received notice from Monsignor to continue; the musicians began to play louder while competing with now not only the noise of the alarm, but also the sound and blinding lights from the firetrucks. As those distractions settled, we reached 5 a.m., Confession was going on and a couple people began to sleep. Through the speakers, a loud resonant voice was heard saying, “Why are you sleeping? He is right in front of you, and you are sleeping in his face.”
Some youth present that day compared that exact event to when Jesus spoke to the apostles after they were not able to stay awake while he prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane. Another expressed his thoughts, saying, “It was a very life-changing, heart-warming experience that I shared with friends.”
It was almost surreal to see the change in the youth over the course of the 12 hours, the tears shed and the pains they had experienced and shared with the rest. “I just want to be loved, and I think I found it right in front of me” were the words of one young man that truly touched my heart.
It is no secret the youth around us are in need of God and his love. With this, we ask for prayers not only for us but for the youth, and those who work with them. We pray for more experiences and more testimonies like the ones from that night, so that one day we may be able to live lives of virtue and grace because of him and understand that his Passion, Death and Resurrection were because of us.[[In-content Ad]]