We, the NET Retreat team, have witnessed many blessings this December. We’ve ping-ponged throughout southern Ontario’s parishes and high schools: Simcoe, Delhi, then back to Simcoe, Windsor, Stratford, Leamington, and Windsor! Ministry has been fruitful throughout these last three months. We’ve done 46 retreats in 11 dioceses in 4 provinces. A total of 2624 students have partaken in our retreats. We’ve come so far, and as we return home for Christmas, we praise the Lord for all the beautiful and miraculous work He’s done this year! We can’t wait to see what the journey will bring in 2024.
Our central theme for this month was Confirmation, The Gift Received. We talked about the meaning of confirmation and how acting on the gifts of the Holy Spirit we receive from it is essential: knowledge, understanding, piety, fortitude, fear of the Lord, wisdom, and counsel. These gifts help us grow holily and continually remind us of God’s loving presence within and around us. We also hosted a few retreats on the importance of silence, God’s first language! We teach students that silence is a method of getting to know Jesus Christ more profoundly and intellectually and how it reconnects us with God. In a world where distractions, noises, tasks, and daily projects overwhelm us, finding a quiet place in your day and breathing in what God wants to tell you is necessary.
During a retreat in Windsor, a youth in Mackenzie’s and Mickela’s small group shared a view that any ultimate reality, like God, is unknown and is to remain unknowable. Both could tell that his soul longed for answers and truth even though he wasn’t fully open to the small group. The youth had the opportunity to write a letter to God during prayer ministry, hard-covered bibles we’re given so that it would be easier for them to write on. When the girls looked over their small group, they realized that the specific youth with extreme views about faith wasn’t writing their letter, but they were reading the bible they were given! For almost 20 minutes, he read through a few Bible pages. They were stunned to see how much God tugged his heart throughout the day and how open he was.
We wish you all a Happy New Year! As we all come back from our holiday break and back into our busy work lives, we encourage you to take time in your day to sit and reflect in the silence and let yourself be filled with God’s presence. We pray that your hearts may be filled with joy from the glow of the birth of our saviour. May the Lord bless you!
(Amanda, Aoife, Mariah, Chris, Blaise, Mackenzie, Thomas and Mickela)