NZ Passionist Youth Retreat July 11th – 14th 2016
Held at Camp Rangi Woods, Pohangina Valley, Manawatu, complete with no mobile phone coverage : )
Thanks to the Trustees of the PFGM in NZ who have encouraged and supported the retreats through funding. And also to the Passionists – Holy Spirit Province for their support in making it possible for Jo McDade to cross the ditch at the end of April to work with the NZ youth retreat team, brain storming and engaging them in the how’s and why’s of the Passionist retreat style. Much was accomplished and Pravin, Angela and Tom can be very proud of their efforts in creating and delivering the sessions along with Fr Ray at the retreat.
The ongoing support from Jo has been a valuable link in the process of enabling youth to have a Passionist experience. And we have certainly enjoyed her energy, close friendship and love.
Paul and I continue to meet bi-monthly with the NZ youth retreat team and their commitment and generosity of time and skills is commendable.
Without elaborating more; I’m sure after reading the following thoughts written by a couple of the youth it will give you a fair idea why it is a privilege just ‘being’ with youth.
Those who have been on retreats before would know what a retreat is, a break from everyday life, a place to reset your thoughts and expand your beliefs. The Passionist Youth retreat is different, yes it still is a break from everyday life and yes you are given the possibility reset your thoughts but it is much, much more. When I got given the opportunity 2 years ago to come to this retreat, I was fairly open to it, I just thought of it to be a place to meet other like-minded teenagers, by the second day of my first retreat I knew I was a lot more than just a social outing.
My beliefs and leadership skills were expanded as we were given the possibility to open our minds to ideas that we never would of thought about otherwise. Sessions about friends, about Masks and about our own lives persuaded us to work on our own personal lives and problems that we may currently be facing. Before my first retreat I was unsure where I was going with life including through by education, my personal life and my faith but by the end of my first retreat I had a better grasp on my future and my faith. Also through the inspiration I have gained from the 2 retreats I have been on, it has encouraged me to become Confirmed and also to become a Eucharistic Minister.
I would like to give a massive thank you to Paul, Linda, Fr. Ray and all the other leaders, Chefs and behind the scene people who contributed to the Passionist Youth Retreat, the opportunity that these camps have given us has affected us more than just any normal retreat would have, I have got new friends and a better outlook on life. The Passionist Youth retreat gives us a possibility to take a step back from life, from any problems and rethink and review and that is why I would recommend this experience, this life-changing experience, to anyone who open for this adventure.
A retreat is a time to come away from the battlefields of life – to retreat from enemy fire and take a new look at life. For the youth of today, this could mean taking a break from school, friends, family and society pressures. For me, 4 days out in the middle of nowhere seemed a bit extreme with no cell phone coverage with no one but a bunch of people I didn’t know to talk to. I expected cliques I wouldn’t be a part of and hard out prayer sessions which would be way out of my comfort zone. However, realism is important to me and that’s what I was given at the retreat. The leaders discussed issues that related to realistic situations in life and worked on how we presented ourselves as an individual. For me, this meant improving on my personal attitude and figuring out what I was to accomplish in the next year. Before the retreat I wasn’t sure what I was going to be able to do with the rest of my year as I was so busy with school, work and extracurricular activities. Going on the retreat allowed me to have the time to think through my individual hurdles and figure out various ways to overcome them and also to find out what I would try to achieve when I returned to my routinely life.
The opportunity to come away from life and meet new people while still being in a quiet, chill environment is one that rarely is available. Usually with such camps it is expected to be loud, messy and exhausting but in all honesty, the Passionist Retreat is as it is entitled; a retreat. Coming back, I always feel relaxed and refreshed – like my slate of everything I had to think about and process is wiped clean and re-written in tidy handwriting with solutions. Of course, like everything, what you get out of a retreat is what you put in. If you go to a retreat with an open mind and a willingness to try something new, such as journaling, which is a mechanism used on the retreats, you will definitely go away with a new look on yourself, life or even God.
I am extremely grateful to my sister who forced me to go to my first retreat in 2014. I haven’t looked back since. Many thanks to Linda, Paul and everyone who make these camps possible. A retreat is a gift of time and love, which can make the biggest of problems seem minuscule if only one is to take a step back.