March 15, 2024 // Diocese

Students Bolster Faith, Fellowship at Confirmation Retreat

On Saturday, March 9, more than 150 confirmands from across the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend gathered for the annual confirmation retreat at Bishop Dwenger High School in Fort Wayne. The day began with a large group gathering and prayer invoking the Holy Spirit to be with everyone throughout the day. The aim of the retreat was to engage the students in spiritual formation as they prepare to receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

The first talk of the day was given by Ryan Norden, a freshman at the University of Notre Dame and former member of the Diocesan Youth Leadership team. Norden spoke to the students about the gifts that God has given them and the importance of stewarding those gifts. He illustrated this with a clip from “Spiderman: No Way Home” that featured the iconic line from the character Aunt May, who said, “With great power comes great responsibility.” He assured the teens that each of them has great power and unique gifts with which the Father has entrusted them, and they have a responsibility to share and use these gifts for advancing His Kingdom.

Photos by John Pratt, Jocelyn Alcala
On Saturday, March 9, confirmands from across the diocese cut and tie blankets, attend Mass, and make knotted rosaries at the annual confirmation retreat at Bishop Dwenger High School.

In the afternoon, Sister M. Fiat Staley of the Sisters of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration spoke about Pentecost and the power and friendship of Holy Spirit. She shared her own witness about how she went from an anxious, Type A, people-pleasing overachiever to a confident daughter of the King, whose love is given not earned. She attributed this shift to Holy Spirit’s promptings and guidance. She then led those present in an exercise inviting them to ask a question silently and then listen for a response from the Holy Spirit.

After each talk, there was time for sharing in small groups to further unpack and develop some of the ideas and lessons the speakers shared. Mass was held in the morning, and confessions were offered throughout the day. Later in the afternoon, there was a service project in which each group was given a tie-blanket kit the for the students to make that will be donated to different women’s shelters and charities. The groups were encouraged to intercede for the recipient of the blanket as they put them together.

The schedule also left plenty of time for the students to spend growing in fellowship. One of the more memorable occasions was spurred by Norden. In his talk, he mentioned some of his own gifts but also his struggles – one of them being failing to win at kickball despite his love for the game. This invited a rather exciting game in the auxiliary gym at Bishop Dwenger during free time, where Norden and another volunteer, Eliana Noll, had a little competition between whose team could win the kickball game. Norden’s team, true to his previous statement, was unsuccessful. Regardless of the outcome, the players shared many laughs, and the game brought great joy to the kids and volunteers who played.

One of the more impactful moments of the retreat was led by Shema Worship. The group, comprised of musicians Natali Perkins, Gloria Kohrman, and Brian Smith, was present for the entire retreat as they led everyone in worship before each session. They also provided the music for Mass and Eucharistic adoration. Before Sister Fiat’s talk, they did something they had not planned. They had intended to lead the group in worship to a song titled “Deeper,” but during Mass, Kohrman had a sense that Holy Spirit had other plans. She brought this notion to the others, who agreed, and the Lord led them to sing the song “Reckless Love.” Then, when the time came and they began to lead worship, Perkins invited everyone to spread out around the gym and sit or lay on the floor. She then opened up a beautiful exhortation about the Father’s love and invited everyone to close their eyes, listen to the song lyrics, and just receive. Across the room, young people, chaperones, and volunteers were able to experience and ponder the overwhelming, never-ending reckless love of God. His presence was so tangible in the gym as these lyrics were sung and repeated – and the prayer from the beginning of the day, that Holy Spirit would be with everyone, was clearly answered.

The confirmation retreat was a beautiful experience for all those in attendance. The volunteers were a huge part of what made the day possible, and each joyfully stepped forward to share their love of Christ with the students. It was so encouraging to witness the kids open up throughout the day and watch them encounter the same Lord and faith that has touched my own heart.

Addison Krebs is a senior at the University of Saint Francis and is a member of St. Jude Parish in Fort Wayne.

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