May 15, 2017
Annual youth retreat held at Camp Holy Cross
Story and Photos by John Thornton
GOSHEN – On a brisk Saturday morning, a group of Christian teenagers gathered in a field at Camp Holy Cross in Goshen for morning prayer. They had come for IACT, an acroymn for “I’m a Christian Teen.” Our Lady of the Valley parish in Easthampton sponsored the 10th annual retreat Friday, May 12 through Sunday, May 14. It was open to teens from across the Diocese of Springfield in grade eight through grade 12.
After spending the night in cabins and enjoying a hearty breakfast, the group was ready for the day’s activities. The morning prayer session was followed by a presentation on the choices that teens face everyday and how faith can act as a compass pointing them in the right direction. Adult group leader Bill Labrie told iObserve how faith plays a role in the decisions that young people make.
“We want to drive home the point that you really have to include God in your decision-making process,” said Labrie. “It should be second nature. When you’re really contemplating making a choice you want to put God first and do what’s best for your faith first and foremost.”
Labrie went on to explain what he hopes the teens will take away from this retreat.
“We’ll be offering Mass this afternoon and again tomorrow,” said Labrie. “We try to keep it going with the faith aspect as much as we can because they definitely need it in their lives right now. It’s easy to get lost in the shuffle. Faith kind of takes a backseat and we want to keep reminding them to keep that front and center and keep that relationship going.”
Chris Carey is a junior at Pope Francis High School and spent the weekend training to be a group leader. He was recruited from his religious education class, as he prepares for his upcoming confirmation. He told iObserve why he’s interested in volunteering as a group leader.
“So, since I was little I’ve always taken an interest in my faith,” explained Carey. “I see it as part of my responsibility as a Catholic teen to foster faith and values in younger people.”
The teens spent the rest of the day watching presentations, participating in group events and breaking up into small discussion groups. Labrie explained what the topics were within the small groups.
“Generally they’re on topic with whatever the presentation was before,” said Labrie. “This morning’s presentation was on choices. I’m doing one this afternoon about mercy. So, the topics for small groups should stick with those themes, but they vary as far as what the teens are going through in their lives right now.”
The rain held off until later in the day, so the teens spent the majority of their time outdoors.
A video version of this story will air on an upcoming edition of “Real to Reel” which airs Saturday evenings at 7 p.m. on WWLP TV22.