By Emily Drooby
“It’s such a joy to be with all of you today,” said youth minister Lauren Gentry as she welcome students into a new kind of retreat, a virtual one.
She said, “It’s just been a huge blessing to get creative and to find ways to still bring the teens closer to Christ.”
In the past, kids would go to an in-person retreat to form a deeper connection with God. However, during the pandemic that’s no longer an option. Paul Morisi said he that meant schools would have to adapt their religious retreats. He didn’t want to just move them online, he wanted to make sure the kids were getting something really great.
Morisi said, “I remember one youth minister said that they were happy that our teens were getting something during this time and another youth minister stopped them and said, “no we have to make sure we are giving young people the best thing they could ever get because they deserve the best that we can give them.””
So, instead of canceling their end of the school year retreats, ministers in the Diocese of Brooklyn are using Young Life Catholic virtual retreats. Through music, interactive games, and speakers they’ve been able to create a unique and effective program, one that brings kids closer to God. That’s especially important during the pandemic when people can’t go to Mass.
“It felt like I reconnected with God,” said Angeliki Pappas, who took part in one of the retreats, “It made me feel closer to God cuz it felt like I was in church since in church they sing songs and things like that and there were people speaking, saying speeches.” She’s a student at Sacred Heart Catholic Academy in Glendale, Queens.
The retreat also brings God to their home.
“I think that this focuses on a lot of the domestic church, and kind of going into the space where they are. And so, it has a real missionary approach to it,” explained Brandon Morel. He’s the retreat emcee and is a youth minister at St Michael-St Malachy
To date over 30 virtual retreats have been booked and over 600 kids have taken part in them.
While so many things have been canceled this year, thanks to virtual retreats, kids can still deepen their relationship with God.