Our Youth

Around the School Bell: St. Joseph’s ‘Fully Alive’ Retreat


By Brandon Morel

“The glory of God, is man fully alive” is a quote we hear from St. Irenaeus, which is sort of an echo of Jesus’ own voice in (John:10) where he states “I have come that they may have life, and have it more abundantly.”

Despite what many may think, the Church is very alive and growing in sharing Christ’s love, especially with the youth of our Brooklyn diocese.

On Sept. 8, the day in which we celebrate as a Church our Blessed Mother Mary’s birthday, there was a kickoff youth retreat with about 50 people involved at St. Joseph Patron’s church, Bushwick.

For, Jessica Vides, the youth minister from St. Joseph Church, this was her first big event with the youth group. The former youth minister before her formed the group and since then has passed on the leadership role to Vides.

The retreat started with opening prayer and music by Fernando Cherobim, followed by games and fellowship. The youth were then led in a meditation about their life with God.

My role was the retreat’s keynote speaker. I’m also a youth minister at Sacred Heart in Bayside as well as a traveling speaker and hip-hop artist. By sharing my music, personal testimony and the story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well (John:4), I challenged the youth in attendance not only to receive the life of Jesus into their lives, but also to share it with their family and community.

Lunch was prepared by members of the St. Joseph Patron community. The day ended with adoration led by Deacon Cruz who gave a reflection based upon Jesus’ words found in (John: 6): “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst…” encouraging the young people to see Jesus present in the sacrament and to give their lives to Him.

God’s Love is Fulfilling

“I didn’t know what to expect from this retreat,” said youth group member Lesley. “It has been so long since I genuinely been in a retreat where God’s love is fulfilling. The experience made me realize that God works in wonders and He is merciful.”

“This retreat enabled me to reconnect and strengthen my bond with God,” said youth group member Samantha.

For Mia, she was completely impacted by this retreat since she never attended one before.

“The words ‘fully alive’ stuck with me throughout the whole process,” she said.

“I’ve felt dead and empty for so very long and lately it’s been hard to feel emotions toward anyone. The words that the speakers said touched my heart. Instead of me pushing to feel happy again, I now know to surrender to God knowing that He will guide me.”

It is safe to say that the love of the Trinity is moving at St. Joseph Patron Church and throughout our Brooklyn Diocese. Let us pray that the youth will come to share in the life of Jesus throughout this year and wherever they go.

Morel is the director of youth ministry at Sacred Heart of Jesus Church, Bayside. He’s also a father and a consecrated lay person of the Idente Missionaries.