UPDATE: At retreat, young adults focus on flipping away from sin, toward God

March 4, 2024 at 1:44 p.m.
Young adults participate in a prayer experience during the retreat. Mike Ehrmann photo
Young adults participate in a prayer experience during the retreat. Mike Ehrmann photo

Angelica Chiacaza

By Angelica Chiacaza | Correspondent

Reflecting on the Gospel reading in which Jesus overturned tables in the Temple when he saw it becoming a marketplace, young adults from around the Diocese were asked to consider the tables they would need to flip to address their weaknesses — sins — and focus instead on making God the center of their lives.

PHOTO GALLERY: 2024 Retreat for Young Adults

During a March 2 retreat at St. Luke Parish, Toms River, the gathering of adults ages 18 to 39 heard presentations from staff of JMJ Missions, a New Jersey-based Catholic evangelization team dedicated to spreading the Gospel, all centering on the theme, “Flipping Tables (to Make Room for God).” The retreat was hosted by the Diocesan Department of Youth and Young Adult Ministries.

The day was about learning “to do things differently and leave room for the Holy Spirit to change the things that need to be flipped,” said Ari Cortez of Mother of Mercy Parish, Asbury Park.

“Flipping tables, I think, actually means changing for Christ, flipping the way we see things — our perspective,” Cortez said.

How are we weak?

JMJ’s Dan Palmieri and Anthony McCullough focused on five weaknesses — addictive sin; insecurities and the opinions of others; doubts and the future; wasting time; and excuses. Palmieri offered suggestions on ways participants can address such issues in their lives.

“When it comes to our weaknesses, we need to keep it real with God,” Palmieri said about addictive sin. When addressing insecurities and the opinions of others, he pointed out that attention needs to be directed toward “Gen Z” — those people born between 1997 and 2012 — and millennials, those born between 1981 and 1996.

“Our phones create a lot of space for insecurities and being on the phone for a lot of hours makes it worse,” he said.

Regarding doubts and the future, Palmieri advised the gathering to turn to prayer for guidance, then reminded them about the doubts Moses experienced because he had a speech impediment which lead him to question his ability to convey God's message. However, God reassured Moses ... it was God's power working through Moses. 

Look to the saints

To fight the sin of wasting time, Palmieri suggested that participants reflect on the life of Blessed Carlo Acutis and his work on the Eucharistic Miracles website. Although Blessed Carlo was technologically savvy and loved video games, he limited the amount of time he spent playing them so he could focus attention on the website before he died at age 15.

When speaking about excuses, Palmieri and McCullough asked the young adults to think about St. Faustina Kowalska and how she had resisted her calling as a nun because she was more interested in being a socialite. She recognized God’s persistence, entered religious life and began receiving messages about Christ’s mercy and forgiveness.

Participants explored additional changes they might make in their lives during three breakout sessions, one of which was led by Lisa Ann Limongello, parish catechetical leader in St. Luke Parish as well as the three parishes that make up the Catholic Community of Hopewell Valley -- St. James, Pennington; St. George, Titusville; and St. Alphonsus, Hopewell. Limongello spoke on “Flipping tables in your prayer life” and reviewed challenges that can occur, various forms of prayer, and ways in which people can pray.

Surrender to Christ and love your enemies

Father Christopher Colavito, diocesan director of vocations and adjunct professor of systematic theology at Seton Hall University, addressed, “Flipping Tables in Life’s Decisions,” during which he reflected on the importance of surrendering to Christ.

“We must be sincere with ourselves and see what it is God is looking for us to do,” Father Colavito said. “Trust that God will get you exactly where you need to be.”

Father Richard Osborn, chaplain of Red Bank Catholic High School, Red Bank, focused on “Flipping tables at home, work or school.”

Participant Nicole Calao of St. Joseph Parish, Toms River, said his session reminded her to “love our enemies, regardless of how they treat us at home or at school or at work, and the way to do it is to pray for guidance, and God will give us all that we need.”

Patrick Schaffer of St. Dominic Parish, Brick, said the retreat reminded him about the importance of having “God in your life.”

“He will help obtain peace of mind with flipping the negative things that don’t belong,” he said.



Dan Palmieri of JMJ Missions addresses the young adults from the Diocese who gathered for a March 2 retreat in St. Luke Parish, Toms River. Standing at right is Anthony McCullough, also from JMJ Missions. Mike Ehrmann photo

 


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By Angelica Chiacaza | Correspondent

Reflecting on the Gospel reading in which Jesus overturned tables in the Temple when he saw it becoming a marketplace, young adults from around the Diocese were asked to consider the tables they would need to flip to address their weaknesses — sins — and focus instead on making God the center of their lives.

PHOTO GALLERY: 2024 Retreat for Young Adults

During a March 2 retreat at St. Luke Parish, Toms River, the gathering of adults ages 18 to 39 heard presentations from staff of JMJ Missions, a New Jersey-based Catholic evangelization team dedicated to spreading the Gospel, all centering on the theme, “Flipping Tables (to Make Room for God).” The retreat was hosted by the Diocesan Department of Youth and Young Adult Ministries.

The day was about learning “to do things differently and leave room for the Holy Spirit to change the things that need to be flipped,” said Ari Cortez of Mother of Mercy Parish, Asbury Park.

“Flipping tables, I think, actually means changing for Christ, flipping the way we see things — our perspective,” Cortez said.

How are we weak?

JMJ’s Dan Palmieri and Anthony McCullough focused on five weaknesses — addictive sin; insecurities and the opinions of others; doubts and the future; wasting time; and excuses. Palmieri offered suggestions on ways participants can address such issues in their lives.

“When it comes to our weaknesses, we need to keep it real with God,” Palmieri said about addictive sin. When addressing insecurities and the opinions of others, he pointed out that attention needs to be directed toward “Gen Z” — those people born between 1997 and 2012 — and millennials, those born between 1981 and 1996.

“Our phones create a lot of space for insecurities and being on the phone for a lot of hours makes it worse,” he said.

Regarding doubts and the future, Palmieri advised the gathering to turn to prayer for guidance, then reminded them about the doubts Moses experienced because he had a speech impediment which lead him to question his ability to convey God's message. However, God reassured Moses ... it was God's power working through Moses. 

Look to the saints

To fight the sin of wasting time, Palmieri suggested that participants reflect on the life of Blessed Carlo Acutis and his work on the Eucharistic Miracles website. Although Blessed Carlo was technologically savvy and loved video games, he limited the amount of time he spent playing them so he could focus attention on the website before he died at age 15.

When speaking about excuses, Palmieri and McCullough asked the young adults to think about St. Faustina Kowalska and how she had resisted her calling as a nun because she was more interested in being a socialite. She recognized God’s persistence, entered religious life and began receiving messages about Christ’s mercy and forgiveness.

Participants explored additional changes they might make in their lives during three breakout sessions, one of which was led by Lisa Ann Limongello, parish catechetical leader in St. Luke Parish as well as the three parishes that make up the Catholic Community of Hopewell Valley -- St. James, Pennington; St. George, Titusville; and St. Alphonsus, Hopewell. Limongello spoke on “Flipping tables in your prayer life” and reviewed challenges that can occur, various forms of prayer, and ways in which people can pray.

Surrender to Christ and love your enemies

Father Christopher Colavito, diocesan director of vocations and adjunct professor of systematic theology at Seton Hall University, addressed, “Flipping Tables in Life’s Decisions,” during which he reflected on the importance of surrendering to Christ.

“We must be sincere with ourselves and see what it is God is looking for us to do,” Father Colavito said. “Trust that God will get you exactly where you need to be.”

Father Richard Osborn, chaplain of Red Bank Catholic High School, Red Bank, focused on “Flipping tables at home, work or school.”

Participant Nicole Calao of St. Joseph Parish, Toms River, said his session reminded her to “love our enemies, regardless of how they treat us at home or at school or at work, and the way to do it is to pray for guidance, and God will give us all that we need.”

Patrick Schaffer of St. Dominic Parish, Brick, said the retreat reminded him about the importance of having “God in your life.”

“He will help obtain peace of mind with flipping the negative things that don’t belong,” he said.



Dan Palmieri of JMJ Missions addresses the young adults from the Diocese who gathered for a March 2 retreat in St. Luke Parish, Toms River. Standing at right is Anthony McCullough, also from JMJ Missions. Mike Ehrmann photo

 

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