By Abbey Schuhmann
Teens from all across the diocese gathered at Lake Forest Ranch in Macon, Miss., on October 15-16 for the 2016 diocesan high school fall retreat. The retreat was led by a team from National Evangelization Ministries (NET), a Catholic ministry program out of St. Paul, Minnesota. NET Ministries was established 35 years ago and has grown over the years. NET was very popular in our diocese in the 1980s and we are excited to have them serving here once again.
The mission of NET is to spread the Gospel message of Jesus Christ through prayer, sacraments, fellowship and service. NET Team #2 led the retreat along with a middle school retreat at Southaven Sacred Heart School. Each NET Team is made of eight-12 young adults usually ages 18-24 years old. The leaders commit to a year of missionary retreat ministry by traveling around the country hosting retreats for parishes and schools.
The theme of our retreat was “Fully Alive” and teens had the chance to reflect on what really brings about true happiness. Ultimately, only Christ will fill our deepest desires of happiness. Our happiness motivates every decision that we make and our youth had the chance to discuss this important concept.
The overnight retreat provided the youth with a high-energy, faith-filled program throughout the weekend. The youth were able to hear powerful witness talks from members of the NET Team, engaged in several small group discussions, experienced a powerful prayer ministry Saturday evening that included the opportunity to go to Reconciliation and participate in praise and worship.
The NET Team also performed funny skits throughout the weekend that the teens and adult leaders alike enjoyed; along with two very touching dramas as well. Our teens also had the chance for some fun and fellowship on Saturday afternoon by participating in some friendly competition including games of ping-pong, dodgeball, sand volleyball and basketball.
On Sunday we celebrated Mass outdoors at the amphitheater with the beautiful lake as our backdrop, Father Jose de’ Jesus Sanchez, director recruitment for the Office of Vocations, served as our principal celebrant. Three seminarians from our diocese were also present throughout the weekend; Aaron Williams, Hayden Schmitt, and Cesar Sanchez participated in the small group sessions and shared their own personal vocation stories with our youth and assisted with the liturgy.
The adult youth leaders had the opportunity to meet one another and discuss the youth ministry programs at their respective parishes.
The Office of Youth Ministry looks forward to offering valued, faith-filled, meaningful experiences for the youth of our diocese moving forward through retreats, rallies, and other related activities.
If you’d like more information regarding diocesan youth events, contact Abbey Schuhmann, coordinator for the office of youth ministry for the Diocese of Jackson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 601-949-6934.
By Abbey Schuhmann