Christopher Lushis
Freelance Writer
August 5, 2014 // Local

Teens encounter Christ’s love and serve as disciples on bcX Retreat

Christopher Lushis
Freelance Writer

Wednesday night Mass was a “barefoot Mass,” before which each student washed the feet of another, emphasizing common discipleship, then all attended Mass barefoot.

By Christopher Lushis

NOTRE DAME — High school students from the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend joyfully came together for the annual bcX Retreat, July 22-25, to participate in liturgical celebrations and community outreach, learning how to effectively “be Christ to others” and “see Christ in others” throughout the world.

The retreat, held at Holy Cross College, encouraged these teens to engage more deeply in their faith and experience Christ in a profoundly transformational way. Grounded in the understanding that the sacraments provide the heart and soul of Christian life, each day the retreatants were offered the opportunity to gain a greater awareness and appreciation of God’s love by receiving Holy Communion at Mass. This Eucharistic foundation then propelled them to live out their call of missionary discipleship through service to the community and enhanced relationship with one another.

“One of the most important parts of being sent on mission is being closely united with the One who sends us,” remarked Megan Swaim, director of youth ministry at St. Pius X, Granger. “We have to remain close to Jesus through prayer and the sacraments so that we can be His hands and His feet. If we are not connected to Him through prayer and the sacraments, then the work becomes our work, instead of His work.”

Retreatants work in the Unity Garden, which provides the opportunity for people to come together and share in food grown locally.

The group of 45 committed students included parishioners from both St. Vincent de Paul and Our Lady of Good Hope in Fort Wayne, as well as from St. Pius X in Granger. Participation on the retreat was made possible by the financial support of the parishes as well as through a generous grant from the St. Joseph Regional Medical Center.  Retreatants were led by adult team members and college-aged volunteers, several of whom participated in bcX as teens themselves, to serve alongside ministries in the South Bend community.

Each day, separate squads ventured to assist at outreach sites including the Center for the Homeless, Women’s Care Center, Better World Books, Catholic Worker House, Northern Indiana Food Bank, Downtown Soup Kitchen, Unity Gardens, Healthwin Rehabilitation, St. Margaret’s House, Holy Cross Parish and St. Stanislaus Parish.

Sarah Hill, director of youth ministry at St. Vincent de Paul Church, Fort Wayne, remarked that the students demonstrated tremendous passion, courage and understanding throughout their service work.

“It was truly beautiful to see the outpouring of love the students displayed in imitation of Christ’s self-sacrifice,” she said. “I was proud and overjoyed to witness their dedicated efforts to touch the lives of others through this service.”

Students help with projects at the Our Lady of the Road Catholic Worker Drop-In Center.

After each day of hard work, the teens returned to Holy Cross College to relax before listening to powerful witness talks on authentic faith, steadfast hope and selfless love. Holy Cross College staff and students as well as youth ministry leaders from around the diocese gave the talks. Touching on the themes “Love Unleashed” and “Being Christ to Others,” the presentations allowed each member of the retreat to reflect more intensely on what takes place in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and through the actions of unselfish charity and service. In both cases, the giver becomes the true gift, becoming poured out for the creation of a new and beautiful reality in the world.


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