By Jessica Seitz
Every summer, the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind., hosts a retreat program for high school students called ND Vision.
I have gone to the week-long retreat twice so far and have been left amazed each time.
The main idea at ND Vision is to “encourage the storm.”
Our mentors don’t want us to leave our troubles at home; they want us to bring every issue, every gift, every thought and every feeling and talk about them. It may be a mess to talk about, but we are encouraging that mess, that storm.
One quote that I remember well from one of our first sessions from speaker Andrew Hoyte was: “You are ma mess, and you are a yes.”
ND Vision welcomes high school students from all over the U.S. to participate in the worshipping of our God and connect emotionally, physically and spiritually in our Catholic traditions.
On the first day of ND Vision, everyone is given a saint that is “our witness to holiness.”
We are also assigned a mentor in faith, who is currently a student at Notre Dame. This helps to organize us into small groups; everyone with the same saint is in the same small group.
We attend sessions where speakers from all over come to talk about our call to discipleship, the call to be loved and the call to love others.
We then go back into our small groups and discuss some of these topics and also discuss our personal experiences and any questions we may have about our faith.
Being in these small groups to discuss your faith and being able to relate to kids our own age, who may be in different stages in their faith, is a very intimate experience. You grow very close to your group. I learned more about complete strangers in a week than I have about my friends at home.
On the second day of the retreat, there was a session called The Call to Discipleship with Susan Reynolds. She spoke to us about how saints are not perfect. Many saints sinned many times before they heard the call to discipleship. Saints were not perfect; they were real, ready and radical. A quote that I remember from her session was, “The saints are the ones the light shines through.”
Reynolds told us to write down a quote by St. Catherine of Siena, and it has become my favorite quote: “If you are who you should be, you will set the whole world on fire.”
I wish I could go to ND Vision for longer than a week. It is an amazing program. I have grown closer to God with the help of ND Vision. It’s a week to reflect and grow in ourselves and our faith. I became more appreciative of my gifts and talents and of the sacraments.
After coming home, I am on an ND Vision high, and I always will be…until the next time.
Seitz, 16, is a junior at The Mary Louis Academy, Jamaica Estates