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The Young Church: A Reflection on the High School Deanery Retreat

From Friday evening to Sunday morning recently, I was in Bozeman helping lead a retreat for high school students called “Awakening.” For future retreat attendees, I won't give away anything to spoil the mystery of the event, but it was a beautiful and wonderful experience not only for our youth but those that volunteered as well. The retreat is modeled after "Search" for those of you who are familiar with that event. We spent the weekend between the Bozeman Catholic Community Center and Holy Rosary Parish. This gathering was the biggest high school Awakening that our Diocese has ever hosted. Between different faith-related talks, the youth had the opportunity to receive the sacrament of Reconciliation from Bishop Vetter and four other Diocesan priests, attend a question-and-answer session with Bishop Vetter, bond over some crazy group games, and be involved in a small service project. The highlight of my weekend was taking my small group of young people to a coffee place called Zocalo and hearing how different people have influenced their faith, things they would want to know about their future if given the chance, favorite childhood memories, saints, and family members they look up to, and where they want to grow in their own faith lives. The retreat was overseen by about 20 adult volunteers who helped run the talks, games, and activities and who also gathered to pray for each youth. The love and time that these adults and parents gave to ensure the high schoolers know they are loved and cared for was a blessing to behold and to spend time among such faith-filled young adults was a terrific opportunity for me to witness a great beacon of hope for the Diocese of Helena and its future.

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