YOUTH and young adults from the Brisbane East Deanery, Western Hills parishes of Brisbane and St Mary’s, Ipswich, gathered for “The Summit”, a retreat at Camp Bornhoffen, Natural Bridge, in the Gold Coast hinterland.
One of the organisers, Fr Nigel Sequeira, said “it was a wonderful weekend of learning about faith, forming new friendships and cementing existing ones for over 80 young people”.
The Summit focused on the Eucharist, the source and summit of the Catholic faith, as well as the sacraments and prayer.
“Most of what we know about the sacraments we learn at the age of Confirmation, so there is a need to have a more mature understanding of the sacraments, what we do and why we do it,” Fr Nigel said.
Fr Nigel, together with the Brisbane East Deanery team of parent Catherine Retford and youth co-ordinators Scott Macdonald and Ciara Retford, helped organise the retreat. Scott, also a DJ on one of the popular radio channels in Brisbane, was the host and created a great atmosphere for learning and fun.
He and his team kept everyone busy with games, both inside and outside.
The high school group, many from Brisbane East deanery’s youth group, The Blue, enjoyed meeting new people and shared their thoughts in family groups.
David Hood, a seminarian at Holy Spirit Provincial Seminary, facilitated discussions with 20 young adults aged between 18 and 25, posing questions commonly asked in secular society and in their own lives.
Following a Friday-afternoon session on Reconciliation, many young people took the opportunity to participate in the sacrament.
Brad, a young adult, said: “I now understand that when I forgive myself and forgive others, I am not only set free, but share that forgiveness and freedom with others.”
Year 11 student Kelsey said: “I learnt that forgiveness is hard, but necessary so that we can enjoy our life and live it to the fullest.”
The Friday prayer experience included adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and a Taize-style meditation and reflection session.
Following this session, another young adult Maria said: “I was finally able to connect with God and experience his love and healing.”
Saturday’s session focused on the Eucharist and the sacraments culminating in a “no holds barred” question-and-answer session with Mt Maria College assistant principal for religious education Derek Worden and Fr Nigel.
Young adult Monica said she now “had answers to some questions I have struggled with, and even to some questions I hadn’t thought to ask”.
The Brisbane East musicians had a busy weekend with Taize on Friday and a praise and worship session as the first prayer experience on Saturday evening.
This was followed by the group venturing into the chilly night to pray the Rosary around the campfire.
“Praying the Rosary together around the fire was definitely a highlight, an almost magical experience,” one of the young people, Edsel, said.
Taidgh described the Rosary around the campfire as “amazing”.
“I was so impressed with everyone’s involvement,” he said. Sunday provided a chance to reflect on the whole experience of the retreat and culminated with the source and summit, the Eucharist.
Overwhelmingly, the feedback from the participants praised the inclusiveness of the whole group, which had made everyone feel welcome and a part of a vibrant Catholic community.
Ruth said: “As an outsider at the start, the welcome was unforgettable, and the friendships I will remember for the rest of my life.”
Year 8 student Mark said what he really liked about The Summit were the parts which were peaceful and respectful to God.
Participant Emily said: “I feel as if my faith has been strengthened and become closer to God. I will be definitely coming next year.”
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