They say  ‘You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink’.

Well, from the 7th -10th July, 25 NZ youth aged 15-18 registered for the Passionist Youth Retreat which took place at Camp Rangi Woods with a program presented by Fr Ray Sanchez, with Erick Niriragira supporting.

It is indeed a privilege to have shared watching these young people embrace the program (drink from the stream) and be open to exploring what it is in their lives that needs attention, what’s new that they never new existed all the while recognising the Jesus in themselves, what they have to offer and sharing it with others on the retreat.

One comes away feeling like a little bit of heaven has been created here on earth!

Like when two participants share a lengthy embrace during the washing of hands reconciliation ceremony, tears streaming from their eyes.

When you see those standing on the edges being invited into the game.

When someone shares their ‘Road of Life’ story and there is no judgment, only compassion and willingness to be present.

How does this happen?  It’s the Passionist Charism.  Reaching out to all…not selected few, having leaders whom care about young people and are willing to listen to their story and encourage them.  Not shying from the hurts in life.

And having Passionist Family Group members help with catering, cooking and saying ‘yes’ to meeting the needs.

Each year those organising the retreat truly put faith in the Spirit, and trust that they can only do part…….the rest is to God.


Topics explored this year were:

Johari Window – Why are you Open? Hidden? Blind? Unknown?

Photo language – find a photo, which matches how you see yourself.

Sessions were held on Perception, Taking Risks and Road to Life.

Dynamics of Love – Love is a decision and a commitment.

Mass and reconciliation/ washing of hands ceremony.

With thanks for support from ANZ Staff Foundation by providing funding for this year’s camp, these retreats have now been offered since 2006.

This retreat also helped with training young adult leaders to lead such retreats in the future.

Linda Darbyshire

A few words by those who attended the Youth Retreat:

I spent 4 days with people I barely knew, and in those 4 days I learned, loved and laughed. I heard stories of trust, survival, unconditional love and inner strength. As I opened up to complete strangers, I learned about myself, others, and god.  Passionist Youth Retreat at camp Rangi woods was an amazing experience. Each day was something new, we played games to open up to each other and learn more about each other. We had great food too! (Thanks to Norma and Mary-Ellen) and the leaders who led our small groups were very interesting people with (Pravin, Petra, Paul, Karen and Erick). When people ask me what I did in the holidays, I tell them about the amazing experience I had meeting people from all over the north island. I can say in all honesty I will never forget PYR 2014.

And I cant wait for PYR 2015!

From Eamon

Having been at Passionist Youth Retreats for the past 3 years I was excited to be a leader at this years camp. Passionist retreats are the highlight of my year- meeting amazing people and having time to relax away from daily life.

Being a leader brought me out of my comfort zone, was a great challenge and I was definitely rewarded. I was happy to help out at a retreat where I had grown as a person and in my faith. I wanted others to have the same great experience as I had, I enjoyed having a small group of 5 people where we had discussions and I have able to guide them in finding themselves and finding God.

I hope I was able to make the retreat an experience to remember for everyone involved. I am definitely putting my hand up again to help out next year.

From Petra 

Earlier in July I had the privilege of attending the Passionist Youth Retreat. I had such a great time meeting new people from all across the lower North Island and taking part in the numerous activities that Father Ray had challenged us with. To end the retreat on Wednesday night we had a lovely mass that brought the whole weeks experience to a close, and brought everybody closer together in our newly formed friendships. I would like to thank everybody who supported the Passionist Retreat this year, it was a wonderful start to my school Holiday.

From Olivia 

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