June 29, 2024 // Diocese

Young Adults Take Leap of Faith at Summit Awakening Retreat

On Friday, June 14, a group of 20 young adults walked into Bishop Dwenger High School as strangers. Thirty-six hours later, they walked out as friends who were inspired to pursue the Lord together in their lives.

This is the third time I’ve seen such a transformation take place as part of the Summit Awakening (SA) Retreat for young adults. A year ago, in June of 2023, I attended Summit Awakening 7, which was the first Awakening retreat to be held since before the COVID-19 pandemic. The retreat was brought back to Fort Wayne by Nathan Mills with support and encouragement from Father Drew Curry and Awakening veteran Michael Kuhn.

Going into the 2023 retreat, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I could count on one hand the people I knew who were also attending. Frankly, I was just hoping that the food would be good. Thankfully, as I was walking in, I quickly bonded with a girl named Lizzie regarding the fact we had the same duffel bag. We went inside, and before I knew it, the retreat had ended, and I was exhausted, emotionally drained, a bit confused. But I walked out with more than 20 new friends who I never expected to have.

Photos provided by Addison Krebs
Participants of past Summit Awakening retreats engage in fellowship with other young adults as they “become more fully awakened to the ever-present love of God,” according to the event’s website.

It might seem like I’ve accidentally left out details of what went on at that retreat, but I’m being intentionally vague. Summit Awakening retreats have a number of unique qualities, most of which are kept secret in order to allow those attending to come in without any expectations so that they are open to the full experience. If you are confused, you’re not alone. I also, initially, found this to be off-putting. However, I couldn’t deny the fruitful friendships that I had garnered from my experience that summer, and because of those, despite my initial distaste for my first retreat experience, I found myself staffing Summit Awakening 8 just a few months later in November of 2023.

It’s probably strange to hear this – and it’s certainly strange to be writing it – but I wasn’t particularly looking forward to helping run this retreat, but between the prompting of my friends and a slight tug in my heart, I felt I was being led to continue with this ministry that I had yet to fully understand. I went into my second Awakening retreat with a lot of cynicism about what the Lord would do – or if He would do anything at all. In my mind, I kept comparing it to other retreats I had helped with – retreats that I personally found more fulfilling. However, as the weekend continued, my heart began to shift, because I began to see God move. I saw the hearts of others being drawn toward Him in adoration. I saw holy friendships being formed in small groups, and I noticed my own heart had softened toward others through sharing my testimony about the mystical Body of Christ. At the end of the weekend, my doubt and pride were completely put to rest by the fruits that had taken place. The Lord took a group of imperfect people and brought them closer to His heart.

One of the participants in Summit Awakening 8, who became a staff member for Summit Awakening 9, allowed me to share his testimony and experience, offering another perspective to illustrate just what makes these retreats so special.

This is the testimony from Joshua Dippold:

“Attending Summit Awakening 8 (SA8) in mid-November of last year was a leap of faith. At St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish, my eyes darted to the SA8 poster centered upon a gathering-area bulletin board. The last day to register was that very day. I had never heard of the retreat, and weekends were some of my only free days. In my mind, I could have been one of few retreatants or one among a crowd numbering 100. Thank goodness for that poster! During the weekend, God filled me with peace and warmth. My walls gave way to the love of Our Lord and Savior’s most Sacred Heart and the mystical Body of Christ, freeing me to lift my hands in praise and worship. I perceived the burdens I carried – both consciously and subconsciously – to be offered up to Christ’s cross. During adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, I experienced a serene encounter with the Lord. He asked me and everyone to become saints of the heavenly Kingdom. Please pray for my conversion and your own that this possibility becomes a reality! When the time came months later, I signed up without hesitation to be a small group leader for Summit Awakening 9. One member in my group expressed their desire to attend adoration more often. The Holy Spirit is indubitably alive at these retreats. I am extremely grateful to the staff members who helped facilitate them. To those who are considering attending a future retreat, my advice is this: take the leap of faith.”

Testimonies like Josh’s are the reason I was able to put aside my own pride and convictions about what a retreat should be. The Lord so clearly – yet so lovingly – reminded me that He can work miracles and win souls without taking my preferences into consideration. The Lord has given me more than I could have ever dreamed of through these retreats – from friends who have become family, to stretching my heart, to teaching me how to love His people better. Helping as a staff member of Summit Awakening 9 allowed me to be more open to what the Lord could do, and being a small-group leader allowed me to be a part of the work God was doing in the hearts of the participants. My small group partner Jack and I saw the Lord move not only in our group members but in our own hearts as well, just like He did in the retreats prior.

The theme of Summit Awakening 9 was “Sow Faith Reap Abundance” based off of the Gospel reading for that Sunday. It illustrates the experience that I and many others have had stepping into this kind of retreat. Those who make the leap to attend these retreats go in knowing only that you know nothing, and you have faith that something good will come. Without fail, the Lord always delivers in abundance.

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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