By Ethan Jameer
When my mother first suggested for me to attend a three-day trip to Pennsylvania for a retreat, I was very hesitant. My prior experience of a group church meeting sat in my mind as a long time of only singing boring Gospel music and praying literally all the time.
But when I heard that there would be teenagers my age and most of my friends were going and that we would be bunking together in groups of two, I was convinced to attend.
Still hesitant, I got on the bus with my friends. It seemed nice at the beginning, but it slowly got hotter because the air conditioning was not as strong as I expected, but I was entertained because of the WiFi connection.
Upon arrival, I was amazed that this was where we would be staying, especially with my friends that I would be bunking with. Soon after we went to go meet our speakers that we would be grouped with. During the retreat it was easy to talk to them because of the not-so-large age difference.
After doing small activities together to break the ice, we were able to talk about how we worshipped God: some by going to church often, some praying and in my case, playing an instrument for Mass.
After discussing that topic, we heard stories of how God and faith helped with problems such as the loss of a close friend, overbearing responsibilities and depression.
I was amazed how our belief in God could get us through such hard times.
The next day I felt like I really understood the strength of God and how we, like the speakers discussed, are able to rest and let God protect us because we are His children and we are loved and cared for.
Skits Showed God’s Love
One of the best things that let me understand this is the small skits that showed God’s love and help. After a very informative talk with the speakers, we participated in the vigil Mass.
Later, we were able to attend eucharistic adoration and have a time of prayer and silence.
Some people were so emotional during the eucharistic adoration that they were in tears, so I realized that others too, learned that they were loved and protected by God.
My initial feelings of doubt and worries about attending this retreat were gone. I was glad that I decided to come.
The next day I was somewhat disappointed because of the fact that the retreat was ending so soon!
As soon as I started really enjoying this retreat, it was ending, but there was nothing I could do. Before we left, we had one last prayer session. I really spaced out and started talking to God about my problems I had as a small child.
We just kept talking and talking but then I was stopped and asked if I was okay and was handed a tissue box. It was then I realized I had tears rolling down my face. I guess that’s what a conversation with God was like – just having someone there to listen to you, even if you might be yelling about your problems on the inside.
After that I realized, I came to the Scranton retreat to get closer to God and to my faith and that’s exactly what happened.
Jameer is a rising freshman at John Bowne H.S., Flushing, and attends St. Clare Church, Rosedale.