When I arrived at the campsite, I went straight towards the beach. The sky was in different shades of pink and yellow as the sun was still setting. A couple of lonesome boats were floating in the distance and birds were flying over the calm waters as they make their way back to their nests for the night. Behind my back, I could hear the commotion growing as the last groups of youth leaders have finally arrived. I felt this place had this Bible verse written all over it.
The last Masterclass I attended at Highgate left a lasting impression on me despite being too short. So when I found out that this one will be held very far away from Perth and my registration paid by my parish, it was a no-brainer to pack and go! I left with Trevor and Keshia, two other youth leaders from my youth ministry.
The weekend was jam-packed with talks, activities, games and discussions, sprinkled with generous amount of free time – things you would typically expect from a youth retreat (especially when you’re a youth leader!). We also celebrated Mass outdoors and observed Adoration. While we had a scrumptious barbecue sundowner of steak, sausages and corn, we also got to “grill” Fr Brennan during one of the more memorable talks.
Actually, each talk was quite memorable and interactive, having to learn not just the teachings in it but the way it was also delivered. In fact, throughout the entire retreat, Vincent, Eliza and Anita made a conscious effort to throw in practical ways to make youth ministry more engaging, however fleeting the comment may be. While it was a privilege to get to know and share ideas with other youth leaders during group discussions, there were plenty of opportunities to do the same with others outside my group during the periods of free time at the beach, over meals or late-night games and chill.
The retreat was a much needed breather from service back home. It wasn’t just an affirmation to us youth leaders to continue our service in the ministry, but also prompted us to take up the challenge to bravely “fish” for more youths in our community and learn from each other, all for the greater glory of God. It has empowered me to continue serving and can’t wait to share what I’ve learned to my other fellow leaders back home.
I went expecting to be taught how to equip myself to better serve in my ministries. Masterclass delivered that and beyond! Having to sleep under the same roof, share the same meals, do kitchen chores together, listen to each other during group discussions, swim together and pray together, the best take-away lesson I received wasn’t what I learned during the talks and discussions (though those are definitely useful). It was that the greatest resource we can ever have is each other in our faith community.
On the last day of the retreat at the beach, I asked one of the youth leaders, a fishing-enthusiast, what his plans are right after the retreat. He said he will be staying in Busselton for a while longer to do some fishing.
It’s quite amazing how much more meaning that has for me now as a youth leader.