Starting on the Friday of the 3rd of August and lasting till Sunday the 5th, twelve youth leaders including myself from St Thomas More Bateman Parish were able to escape the rushed realities of life, to come together at Seabird for a mini weekend away formation retreat. Helped and led by Theo Hartanto from Catholic Youth Ministry, the weekend proved a remarkable get away from home to bond as a leadership team.
The aim of the retreat was to come together as a team, have a bit of time for self-reflection and to check in with each other. Everyone loves being part of a team, but building a team takes time and this weekend was a step in achieving that.
The sessions led by Theo provided us with great insight into each of us, of where we are on our faith journeys, and more importantly why we are in youth ministry. This weekend enabled us to share more about ourselves to our team. We really encouraged the younger leaders to step outside of their comfort zones. Each leader was paired with another and they were in charge of cooking a meal for the team. I must admit, there were some very interesting cooks in our group.
Personally, for me, as a more experienced leader in our group, it was a chance for me to reflect on my time in youth ministry. Why I am still in youth ministry and what kind of role model do I want to be for all those I encounter? This weekend re-affirmed my love for youth ministry and why after 10 years, I am still so involved. Seeing how our team bonded was a really touching experience. I see this team nearly on a weekly basis but how much did I really know about them and their lives? I wished the retreat went on for longer.
During this weekend away a quote that kept repeating in my head, which was “God doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the Called”. Each of the leaders had come from different backgrounds, had different upbringings, had different life experiences, and were at different stages of their faith journeys. But all of us were there because we were called by God and we all said Yes to this call. I am truly thankful for the retreat and for my Bateman Youth Leaders reading this, you guys are all an amazing bunch of human beings. Keep up the amazing work that you all do for the parish day in and out.
For all the youth leaders reading this, I leave you with this; Never stop saying Yes to God and His will. Serve in whatever capacity you can. I know sometimes the struggles are real and youth ministry can become overwhelming, but you were put there for a reason, you have a story to share, a story to be heard by the young people you encounter. Your experiences, your passion, your generosity, your time and your gifts may shape someone you will never know about but know that it was through your passion and journey that they were led to Christ. Never give up because the fruit, joys and memories you will receive on this journey in youth ministry will be there for the rest of your life.
Written by Clarence Goh