On a recent retreat, the Bishop Machebeuf High School junior boys were granted a deep encounter with Christ. The retreat was held at Our Lady of the Pines Catholic Church in Conifer. The parish generously let the juniors have unhindered use of its facilities for the weekend, which they were able to take full advantage of.
The retreat was held for male juniors only – the female students had their own retreat – a strategy which was experimented with last year with great success. Brother Paul, the retreat leader and campus minister at Machebeuf, explained that splitting up the junior class allowed for a much greater focus on what it means to be a man or woman of God. Both men and women have their own roles in the family, the most intimate setting of God's love. This theme was stressed at both events and the participants were able to embrace it completely. Br. Paul therefore referred to the boys’ event as a “conference”, since men especially are sometimes not fond of “retreating”.
The first morning of the conference, a Sunday, began with Mass offered by Father Christopher Hellstrom at Bishop Machebeuf High School. The one-and-a-half hour bus ride from Machebeuf to Conifer gave way to a one-hour hike in Pine Valley State Park, about twenty minutes from Our Lady of the Pines. There, the junior boys were able to expend some energy, take in the beautiful scenery, and reflect on how God's plan for each of their lives was so much greater than what they could imagine.
After hearing a couple of talks back at the parish on how important it is to lay a firm foundation of faith on Christ's love and to be a solid Catholic foundation in the family, Adoration before the Eucharist was held, a powerful experience for the boys – and the highlight of the conference for many of them.
“God blessed me in one of the most beautiful ways” said Junior Alex Gomez. “I saw other guys crying on their knees in front of the Blessed Sacrament, and I just started laughing uncontrollably. I was so filled with joy and happiness. I've never been so happy in my life.”
The next morning, after praise and worship and another talk, a number of the boys volunteered to share their experiences of the past night. A comment by one of the juniors summarizes it well:
“I came into the conference expecting a boring experience, but when I saw people around me being so devoted and serious at Adoration, so focused on the Eucharist, I was touched” said Sean Moriarty. “I'm very thankful to everyone for showing that respect and showing me how important [Jesus in the Eucharist] is.”
Connor Smith is a Senior at Bishop Machebeuf High School.