Jesus became one of us so that we “may have life, and if to the full” (Jn 10:10). Therefore God has a special and unique plan for every one of us and it is the great adventure of life to unravel and follow this plan thereby turning into the person God wants us to be. To encourage young people in their struggles growing up to actively pursue this search for God’s master plan for their lives is consequently one of the great tasks of youth ministry.
Such was the motivation for the Derry Youth Community for the year 10 retreat in Loreto College Coleraine running under the topic “Becoming the person You are made to be – discovering Your value and dignity”. The main part of the day’s schedule, besides team building icebreaker games, were four different workshops facilitated by the DYC and members of the Diocesan Catechetical Centre enlightening different aspects of the retreat’s overall topic: “Becoming the best version of myself” reflecting on the transience of the world in contrast to the things that really matter and make our lives worthwhile; another workshop “Making good choices and decisions” concentrated on difficult situations in which we can get in our daily lives and how to solve them searching for a set of ten concrete commandments. A rather personal note was struck in the workshop”Getting in touch with God”. In this workshop the young people focused on their understanding of God’s personality and their very own relationship to him in prayer, for without this personal encounter with “the God who speaks to us, who approaches us and who befriends us” which is “the essence of Christianity” (Pope Benedict XVI.) everything else would be built on unstable ground. A different kind of experience was the last workshop, a guided meditation, inviting everybody to sink into the mentality of a life of loving service exemplified in the Gospel of the washing of the feet.
After a Youth Alpha session, during which the young people discussed questions like: “Do you think God’s instructions are still relevant today?” and “How do you feel about the fact that God has a plan for your life?” the final mass drew everybody to the heart of the retreat being it’s ultimate purpose at the same time: life lived as a life in friendship, love and trust in God.