The Passionist Youth and Young Adults retreats this year were run by Brisbane duo Jo and Tim McDade, during the first week of the July school holidays.
35 15-18 year-olds from all over the Diocese attended the youth retreat, held at Camp Rangi Woods in the Pohangina Valley.
The retreat explored the concept of a relationship with ourselves, a relationship with others and a relationship with God.
Along with the usual sessions, games, great food and friendships, this year the participants were also treated to an overnight snowstorm – a first in the history of the retreat.
Despite knocking out the power and causing an early finish, this did not damper the spirits of the participants.
Bridget Kelly-Lowe, from the Catholic Parish of Napier, said, “This was an amazing retreat where we actually took the time to put the distractions of social media, etc. away so that we could be free to look at ourselves not through an Instagram filter but through the truth.
“It was a journey for all of us – one where we cried, broke free from obstacles, let down masks, had fun, played in snow and reconnected with God.”
“This being my second Passionist Youth retreat, I thought I knew immediately what I’d be in for,” said Catharina Lee, from Newlands in Wellington. “However, even my expectations were surpassed on all levels (not only by the snow!), as we were guided to take a deeper look within ourselves, our relationship with others, and our relationship with God, whilst also feeding off the buzz of being surrounded by like-minded youth with strong faith and cheerful smiles.”
“The main thing that stood out for me was the amazing vibe and joyful atmosphere, with everyone participating and being open and honest, friendly, loving and supportive of one another,” Catharina continued. “This retreat is highly recommended to any person regardless of where they are in their faith journey, who wants to have an unforgettable time. I know that I was definitely sad to leave.”
The Young Adults retreat, held at the Magnificat Retreat Centre in Featherston, was attended by 25 young adults aged 18+.
This retreat was a little more intense, with the participants having plenty of time for group discussion and personal reflection in their journals.
Celia Kueh, a member of Te Ahi Kaa, the young adults community house in Palmerston North, praised Tim McDade on the wonderful job he did of facilitating the sessions, which had the theme of ‘Freedom’.
“I found it to be a thoroughly worthwhile opportunity to allow time for reflection on self and our relationship with others and with God,” Celia said. “The peaceful surroundings of the Wairarapa countryside and the enjoyable company of fellow retreaters also positively added to the experience.”
Pravin Vaz, from Waikanae, acknowledged that the retreat presented some challenging topics.
“There were some really tough moments to reflect on, especially when Tim stated, ‘Sin is a wonderful gift, for without, we would never experience the wholeness of your mercy’”, he said. “Each act of sin gives us an opportunity to reconsider our stance/choices in life. Willful choices which lead to sin can be considered as a learning curve in our understanding of God’s infinite love for us.”
The Youth and Young Adults retreats are held every year: see https://www.passionistfamily.org.nz/retreats/ for more information.
Special thanks once again goes to Linda and Paul Darbyshire for all of the work they do to ensure the retreats run smoothly.
Click here to see photos of the Young Adults retreat.