Youth workers, both full-time and part-time, chatted about the positives in their work, their future projects, as well as the challenges they face in their day-to-day activities.
After a number of people had spoken about their experiences, Fr Christopher Jamison, who is Director for the National Office of Vocation in England and Wales, provided some reflections. He talked about the importance of being mindful of our interior lives and how, by reflecting on our own spirituality, we can better serve others. This led to a conversation about the various ways in which people read the Bible (such as reading a bit each evening as part of a time of reflection, or powering through the entire thing). He also talked about recognising that young people are searching for the meaning of their lives, and that through the Gospel and the strength of our faith, we can direct the youth towards a more fulfilling life.
We then had midday Mass in the chapel, celebrated by Fr David Reilly. This was a nice occasion, as the youth workers were joined by the SPEC volunteer missionaries, who are year-long residents of the retreat centre.
Everyone had lunch afterwards, which was great and was topped off with a very tasty mocha-flavoured muffin.
For the afternoon session, a few more people had the chance to talk about their experiences in youth work. We then had a talk from Fr David. Using extracts from the Bible, we discussed how in order to change lives, only two things are necessary: The Word and an open heart. Once a person has heard the truth of Jesus Christ and let Him into their heart, their lives are changed. It was a great reflection and a perfect way to end the day.
The Youth Worker Retreat Day was a great success. One of the most valuable things from it was the opportunity for youth workers from around the diocese to share and discuss with each other. It was a way to develop closer connections and create a greater sense of community and solidarity. The other valuable fruit from the day was the spiritual reflections from the two priests, as these reinforced why we do what we do and acted as the foundation for greater things to come!
It was also nice to see the balance between lay and religious participants, as both need each other to help us in our mission to support the youth and inspire them with the truth of Jesus Christ.