SPECIAL TO THE CATHOLIC HERALD
In late January, 150 young adults gathered at Schoenstatt Retreat Center in Waukesha for Winter Weekend, an annual retreat hosted by Brew City Catholic.
“We wanted to provide an opportunity for young adults to encounter the love of Christ and teach people how to pray,” said Pete Burds, director of the John Paul II Office of the New Evangelization. This was a time to get away, rest and breathe for busy young adults.
The retreatants came from the Archdiocese of Milwaukee and outside the archdiocese to relax and explore the deeper questions of life. The retreat was led by Fr John Ignatius, Brother Peter Xavier, and Brother Andrew Brebeuf from the Servants of Christ Jesus, a religious order in Denver, Colorado. The main message was to get to know the Holy Spirit and seek to use the gifts he gives us.
“I signed up for retreat because I had not been on one in two years. I felt that God had something planned for me on that weekend specifically, and I was excited to have an entire weekend of just Him being the focus. I went in looking for clarity and a sense of direction,” said Kaitlin Trokan.
Emcees Pete Burds and Bri Kelly opened the retreat and introduced Fr. Ignatius, who spoke on the role of the Holy Spirit in our lives and especially in our prayer. Retreatants practiced sharing and praying with another person before meeting in small groups to process and discuss further. The evening ended with a social, enabling people to get to know each other better.
Brother Andrew spoke about the fundamentals of prayer and developing a daily prayer habit. Free time in the early part of the afternoon involved a snowball fight, a movie, a nap or quiet time to be with others. Brother Peter gave a talk that culminated in Eucharistic Adoration and praying for each other in small groups.
On the final day, retreatants were asked to reflect on their 4 o’clock moment — the moment something changed. The 4 o’clock moment is a reference to John 1:39-51. It was about 4 p.m. when Jesus called Andrew, Peter, Phillip and Nathanael, thus changing their lives.
“The 4 o’clock moment I experienced was during the sacrament of reconciliation. Reconciliation is already the place where many times I feel God’s tangible love for us. Over this retreat, however, I experienced God’s love and support in a beautifully disturbing way. This 4 o’clock moment opened my eyes to how powerful God’s love truly is for us, and how accessible it is in the Sacraments,” said Nino Rebholz.
“My 4 o’clock moment was during Adoration on Saturday night. The Lord revealed to me a place in my heart that he wanted to heal that he had never shown me before. It was beautiful to be able to pray for that healing with my entire small group interceding for me,” said Sarah McQuade.
Cat Vukodinovich belongs to a non-denominational church and said, “I had no idea there were young people out there that actually wanted to be Catholic. I thought it was just for the older generation. It’s made me think more about my past and present and my own faith life, and made me want to be a part of a Catholic community of young people. It was a really cool experience.”
During the final Mass she had her 4 o’clock moment. “I remember just being on my knees with tears flowing and feeling shivers throughout my body as the bells rang and just feeling God’s presence.”
The presence of the Holy Spirit was evident at the evening social event held after Adoration. The energy level was high with singing and dancing, ping pong and Bananagrams, and a whole lot of laughing.
Fr. John Burns, the vocation promoter for the archdiocese, served as chaplain for the weekend. “Whenever we step out in trust and give the Lord our attention, we discover over and over again the fact that He is profoundly interested in the details of our lives. The Winter Weekend was a perfect example, as so many men and women encountered the Lord in beautiful and unforgettable ways. An annual retreat really does belong on the short list of Catholic fundamentals,” said Fr. Burns.
To avoid this being a mountaintop experience that does not bleed into daily life, several of the small groups that met during the weekend will continue to meet. Young adults will also continue to deepen their spiritual and community lives through other regular Brew City Catholic events. For more about Brew City Catholic, a ministry of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, see www.brewcitycatholic.com.