Our Youth

Around the School Bell: The Stay-Awake-Athon Retreat

More than 60 youth from around Brooklyn traded in sleep for fellowship and fun during the annual Stay-Awake-Athon overnight retreat at St. Thomas Aquinas, Flatlands, Feb. 22 – 23. (Photos: St. Thomas Aquinas Parish)

By Kayla Archibald and Dalia Hopkins

We attended the annual Stay-Awake-Athon overnight retreat held at St. Thomas Aquinas, Flatlands. The retreat was led by Father Dwayne Davis, pastor, and hosted by the Vicariate of Black Catholic Concerns (VBCC).

“My favorite part of the event was when we broke into groups to analyze what we learned from what the speaker said,” shared Jezikiah, from Our Lady of Charity, Crown Heights.

The eventful evening began on Friday night, Feb. 22 and went into Saturday morning, Feb. 23. The event consisted of youth from multiple parishes including St. Thomas Aquinas, Flatlands; St. Vincent Ferrer, East Flatbush; Sacred Heart Church, Fort Greene; Our Lady of Charity and St. Matthews, both Crown Heights.

“Overall my experience at the Stay-Awake-Athon was very fun,” said Colsen, from Sacred Heart Church. “I got to meet a lot of new people and also it moved me spiritually to be more involved in church. Mostly the Stay-Awake-Athon made me focus on who I am inside and how to express myself on the outside.”


New Beginnings in Christ

The weekend was full of fun, food and new beginnings in Christ. The kids involved had the opportunity to interact with others outside of their parish community. They also gained a new understanding of the world and Christ’s role in their lives.

“My favorite part was when we played Battle of the Sexes and had the pie-eating contest,” said Sarah from St. Thomas Aquinas, Flatlands, parish.

For Pharlonne Larosiliere from St. Vincent Ferrer, she said her favorite part was meeting new people.

The highlights of the night were ice breakers, plenty of games and activities, Eucharistic adoration, the sacrament of reconciliation and keynote speakers like Father José Diaz, parochial vicar at St. Leo, Corona, and Noel Phillips.

“It is really awesome that I got to give back to the program that gave me a lot,” said Noel. “I was always helping with the lock-in over the years, but I never got to speak at one. I enjoyed seeing such young faces being enthusiastic about the event as well as seeing so many different parishes attend.”

Archibald and Hopkins are ambassadors for the Vicariate of Black Catholic Concerns.