Retreat encourages youth to consider who they are and their place in the community

Friday, Nov. 10, 2017
Retreat encourages youth to consider who they are and their place in the community Photo 1 of 2
The youth retreat included various ice-breaking and community-building activities. See additional photos on the Intermountain Catholic Facebook page. IC photo/Marie Mischel
By Marie Mischel
Intermountain Catholic

PRICE — Every person belongs to various communities – they have family, friends, their parish and even strangers with whom they interact. Catholics are called to love each of these individuals and understand their worth, just as they are to see themselves as created in the image and likeness of God.
This intertwined theology was presented to youth from the parishes of Notre Dame de Lourdes, San Rafael Mission and St. Anthony of Padua during a Nov. 4 retreat organized by the diocesan Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry. The retreat was held in Notre Dame de Lourdes Parish’s Hope Center.
The retreat included ice-breaking activities, presentations and small-group discussions. As a final activity, the youth constructed two “Day of the Dead” altars to honor those who have passed away.
Prior to constructing the altars, the youth were given information about various saints and a photo of someone who died in one or another of the recent mass-shooting incidents or natural disasters. The youth were requested to pray for these people, and to ask for the intercession of the saints.
Shortly after the retreat began, Bishop Oscar A. Solis sent a message via Twitter to the participants: “One with you in spirit and prayer as we help build together vibrant faith communities in our midst. Blessings to your retreat!”
As the retreat moved from ice-breaking activities to the presentations by the adults, the youth chose cards with words that described the characteristics they see in themselves, such as “hard-working” or “intelligent.” They then drew pictures of themselves without using a human form. Among the pictures were a sunrise in the mountains, and a golden star.
These images are important, said Jaime Zuazo, leader of the youth group at Saints Peter and Paul Parish, because “sometimes it’s hard for us to think about ourselves in a positive way.”
Zuazo, in his presentation during the retreat, reminded the youth that each of them was made in the image and likeness of God. “You are not a mistake, you are not a coincidence,” he said several times. 
Because God gave the gift of life, people must take care of themselves and other people, Zuazo said, adding that practicing love is the only way to reach God. “When we serve, we’re happy because we see other people happy, and that’s what God wants us to do,” he said.
Continuing Zuazo’s theme, Junuee Castro, director of the diocesan Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry, told the youth, “You are God’s perfect masterpieces.” 
All people are created in the image and likeness of God, she said, and because God is a community of persons in the Trinity, then people also belong to a community. Castro discussed the various communities the youth belong to – their family, their friends, their church, their wider community that includes strangers. 
“You are not alone,” she said, and added that God gives divine assistance for people to understand and love others and appreciate their worth. 
Having the event was wonderful because it gave information to help the youth have a better relationship with their parents, the Church and the wider community, said Fr. Rafael Murillo, pastor of Notre Dame de Lourdes Parish, “and that is what we are looking for.” 
During the retreat, the youth participated in the activities and were engaged in the presentations, said Castro, so “the purpose of going down there and uniting the youth in the Eastern Deanery was accomplished.”
The youth themselves said they enjoyed the retreat. Lizbeth Acosta, a Notre Dame de Lourdes parishioner said she liked meeting new people, and Jose Salazar, who attends San Rafael Mission, said the activities gave him something to do other than sitting at home. Also, he said, “I learned a little more about God; that he’s like a friend.”

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