Late last month 109 young adults (18-35 years of age), from across the Diocese of Parramatta and beyond, gathered for the 3rd Annual LIFTED Retreat facilitated by the team at Catholic Youth Parramatta.
The retreat took place at the Benedict XVI Centre in Grose Vale and featured input and reflection from the Very Rev Peter G. Williams, Qwayne Guevara, Francis O’Callaghan, Very Rev Paul Roberts, Real Talk Australia and the Culture Project from Friday evening through till after Sunday’s lunch.
The pinnacle of the program was the LIFTED night on Saturday when a team of eight priests were welcomed and eagerly embraced for prayer, praise, worship, adoration and reconciliation.
The retreat was titled “Made for Greatness” and was inspired by this year’s theme for the Australian Catholic Youth Festival – “Open New Horizons for Spreading Joy” which will also form the basis of reflection and focus for the ACBC Year of Youth in 2018.
Catholic Youth Parramatta welcomed, for the first time, 22 young teachers who are more broadly part of a new initiative called “Faith in Action Teams” being supported and encouraged by us as youth ministry animators in our Catholic Secondary schools going into the future. Their presence positively re-enforced the critical relationship required between schools and parishes in bringing young people closer to Christ through all that we have to offer them in the Diocese.
Notably 70% of the participants on the LIFTED Retreat were first-time attendees. Over a third had welcomed a personal invitation from others or had been brave and courageous in responding to Parish newsletter advertisements about the opportunity.
Maegan Pathinather from Our Lady Queen of Peace Parish, Greystanes shared this reflection via social media.
“The weekend was one of the best I’ve had in a long time. I feel so fresh, alive and want to share this joy with so many others. It’s so important to remember that we are all destined to be great. We are so unique, talented and incredibly blessed. In life we face hardships, and things don’t always go to plan but sometimes it’s for the better – it’s God’s plan for us”.
Vienna Marie was another first time attendee at the LIFTED Retreat and shared this post more broadly with her family and friends.
“After being on the hustle for a long time, I was in need of a massive digital detox getaway where I could just centre myself and reflect on everything going on. The retreat was one of the best things I’ve ever done. Having the chance to meet so many people while opening up about the most beautiful and hardest experiences people have endured, it was worth the sleepless nights, laughter and amazing company. Seriously a 10/10. Would do again”!
Catholic Youth Parramatta offers the LIFTED Retreat in July each year.