By Tara Trost
GREENWOOD – Recently, a group of 55 youth from Greenwood, Greenville, Indianola, Leland, Winona and Grenada gathered at Locus Benedictus Retreat Center for a day of reflection led by eight facilitators from South Louisiana.
“We’re young adults with a passion for retreats and serving the youth,” said one of the facilitators. “We discovered this passion by serving on various retreat teams such as DYRT, a retreat team for the Diocese of Baton Rouge, and NET Ministries.
The Saturday retreat, organized by Father Greg Plata, OFM, pastor of Greenwood St. Francis and Immaculate Heart of Mary parishes, delved on the themes of self worth, God’s grace and love, and their Catholic community. In one of the talks, through the activity “Nail struggles to cross,” participants wrote their struggles on notes and hammered them to a wooden cross with nails.
Sophia Moreno told her youth minister that she truly noticed that God was with her during the day. “We had to write a message about something we were struggling with,” she said. “I was calling out his name and I felt his presence. I cried and told him that I wanted to fully accept him into my life.” She noted that she felt so much joy in her heart that she began to laugh. “It was awesome and it changed me forever.”
For CisLee Trost, her favorite part of the retreat was the small groups because “it made me realize that other people struggle with the same thing I do.”
The day also included skits based on a story in the Bible, adoration and confessions by six priests from the youth’s parishes along with several Redemptorists. Mass of Good Shepherd Sunday was celebrated by Father Plata followed by dinner.
Several times in the last year youth from a 60-mile radius have met at Locus Benedictus Retreat Center which is nestled on 67 acres of serene countryside. “The youth love it out here. It is so peaceful, quiet and very welcoming,” mentioned Christy Strong from Grenada St. Peter Parish.
Father Plata told participants there will be plans for everyone to meet again for a fun day. Since the retreat, plans have begun for Kampfire and Karaoke on Friday, June 17, at Locus Benedictus for all youth to join in a fun faith-filled summer night.
Father Plata said this was a wonderful gathering of our young Catholics in this part of the Delta. “Often they feel they are a minority, since Catholics make up less than three percent of the population. This event showed they are not alone. It also showed the wonderful diversity among the Catholic family. What a wonderful sight to see black, white and Hispanic kids have a great time together.”
For further details and/or information visit www.locusbenedictus.org to RSVP for the event.
(Tara Trost is the director of outreach for Locus Benedictus ministries and youth minister for Grenada St. Peter Parish.)
By Tara Trost