Trish Linner
Freelance Writer
March 2, 2011 // Local

Teen retreat at Marian High School focuses on the Eucharist

Trish Linner
Freelance Writer

“Panis Vitae” retreat participants gather for worship and praise on Saturday morning before Mass with Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades.

By Trish Linner

MISHAWAKA — High school teens from across the diocese gathered at Marian High School for the first diocesan-sponsored “Panis Vitae,” (“I am the Bread of Life”) youth retreat. The event, held Friday, Feb. 25, through Sunday, Feb. 27, was coordinated by the diocesan Office of Youth Ministry, and the focus was on the Eucharist.

Cindy Black, diocesan youth director, said, “We are very excited about this retreat and how well it went. The students came with open hearts and really seemed to feel the joy and inspiration that is all around them here.”

Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades joined the students on Saturday morning to celebrate Mass. In his homily, he spoke about the Israelites carrying the Ark of the Covenant with them through the desert.

“The ark was held in a tabernacle,” Bishop Rhoades said. “Moses would enter the tabernacle to speak with God and a cloud would hover over the tabernacle always symbolizing God’s presence to the people.”

He reminded the teens that the animal sacrifices that were made at that time were to ask God for forgiveness and mercy.

“Of course, these sacrifices were incomplete and it would take Jesus Christ to come, to be present and to sacrifice Himself for our sins to truly be forgiven,” Bishop Rhoades said.

He also spoke of the importance of the Blessed Mother — understanding that she was also the Ark of the New Covenant as she carried Christ Jesus and birthed Him into the world.

“We are all called to be holy,” Bishop Rhoades said, “At Baptism God came to dwell in our souls. Mary is the perfect example of how to be temples of God and carry our Lord with us.”

The bishop spoke of the importance of Confession in preparing to receive Jesus in the Eucharist: “Confession helps keep us holy so that we are prepared to carry Christ with us.”

Bishop Rhoades concluded Mass thanking the students for participating in the retreat and spending time that focuses on their faith.

“I am overjoyed to see so many consecrated brothers and sisters here today to celebrate Mass and participate with you in this conference,” Bishop Rhoades said. “I hope that this is only the beginning of a youth awakening in our diocese.”

Bishop Rhoades asked for their prayers and told them, “I hope and pray this weekend draws you closer to our Lord and His mother. I will be praying for all of you.”

The three-day retreat featured the Blessed Sacrament centrally exposed during the retreat (except during Mass). There were small group discussions, large group meetings, praise music, Confession and much prayer time.
Father Mark Gurtner, pastor of St. Anthony de Padua in South Bend, provided a teaching on the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Father Jacob Runyon, parochial vicar of St. Matthew Cathedral, South Bend, spoke on conversion.

Sister Mary Vianney, a Sister of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration, and Andrew Polanecki shared stories of the the saints and told the teens that their “holiness starts today.”
Mary Bielski challenged the students to continue to nurture their relationship with Christ through daily prayer and loving others.

“It was really good to come to the conference,” said Emily Garrett of Fort Wayne. “I enjoyed the Mass with the bishop.”

Bernie Becker, also from Fort Wayne agreed adding, “It is so awesome to gather with so many other students who want to focus on their faith. It is great to be surrounded by so many brothers and sisters. Having Adoration all the time is also amazing.”

Cindy Black related that one young man who participated in the retreat told her: The fact that Christ died for him went from a cliché to a personal realty.

Black also related that a Marian High School student commented that she had performed dance routines and participated in gym class in the very spot she encountered Jesus that weekend. Now it is holy ground for her, Black said.

“We are so glad that Franciscan Father David Mary Engo and the Franciscan Brothers Minor, Father Drew Curry and Holy Cross Father J. Steele were able to join us and help coordinate this event,” Black said. “The kids really had a fantastic time together.

“We look forward to hosting smaller events in some of the parishes, and hope to host another retreat in the summer,” she said.

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