Monday, 6 November 2017

Courageous : The Derby Retreat


By Georgia Clewer

After spending a year in youth ministry, my faith was stronger than it had ever been. Through the ups and downs of the last year, my faith is something that always remained consistent. When your faith becomes your work and is the foundation for the community you live in its understandable for it to be so important. However, moving away to university, I started to notice my faith dipping. I was no longer living with other Catholics, my CathSoc meet ups clashed with my sports team’s night out. I would make an effort to attend mass, but what I was missing was sharing my faith with other young people through praise, worship and adoration.


The Youth 2000 Courageous retreat was my first experience of a Youth 2000 retreat and it could not have been more perfectly timed. The retreat gave me the opportunity to step back and take some time for myself and God. The opportunity to just sit and be with the blessed sacrament restored the tranquillity that I had lost in my busy life.

I found the workshops particularly interesting over the weekend. I attended Theology of the Body first, curious as to what this would entail. This workshop was very thought provoking and made me re evaluate some of the past choices I had made. I had always known the church’s stance on pre-marital sex, but I had never really thought to look into why as I felt it wasn’t relevant to today’s society. I found out that there is so much to it! The workshop explored how we value our own bodies and how God does as well, providing a positive and uplifting session opposed to the condemning and negative one I had feared.


At the university life workshop, I was able to talk to other current and ex students who were very open and honest about their experiences about their spiritual and social lives at university.

The talks with the students, and the reconciliation service that followed in the evening, gave me the reassurance that although I am a Catholic student, I am not defined by only that. Yes I make mistakes and my faith isn’t perfect all the time but I am able to recognise that I can always seek forgiveness- there isn’t anything I can do to keep me from God’s unconditional love.

Over the past few months I had been struggling a lot with my own self worth and where it comes from, leading me to make decisions that didn’t always make me happy and help me reach my full potential. During the talk on the last day, the seminarian Paschal Uche quoted the Dominican sister St. Catherine of Siena: '"Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.”' This quote sums up the retreat for me; the love I felt over the weekend was overwhelming, the love from God, my friends and the love from strangers has had such a huge impact on how I am choosing to live my life now. When I cannot recognise my own worth I know I have the strength to renounce the lies I sometimes believe, because being who I truly am in God’s eyes is more powerful than anything else, and I truly intend to set the world on fire.


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