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All photographs by: George Reppel
CCRNO SUNDAY NIGHT YOUTH PRAYER MEETINGS
RUMMEL RAIDER ROOM * 7:30 PM
Article on the 2009 Holy Spirit Teen and Young Adult Retreat
by Alex Lorio

In a culture which points in now one, now another direction to find happiness, the Catholic Charismatic Renewal of New Orleans held its annual January Retreat for teens and young adults, boldly proclaiming Jesus Christ as the one way to human fulfillment. From January 2nd to January 4th, over 420 young persons landed on the campus of Nicholls St. University to experience the power of the Holy Spirit.

The weekend’s theme was “One Way” taken from St. John’s Gospel passage where Christ says, “I am the way and the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). Friday night kicked off with Jesuit theology teacher Timmy McCaffery introducing retreat-goers to the God who loves man even when he strays away. McCaffery then challenged the youth to make a choice between the way of Christ and the way of the world.

Archbishop Chapelle High School senior, Katherine Schluter, related her experience, “I felt each person brought his or her own struggles to the retreat and on Friday night, I felt like everyone realized, ‘OK, here is where I need to lay this down and give this to Christ.’ We realized that Jesus is truly present for us to heal us and love us and we learned that we really can give our life to Him.”

On Saturday, the youth split off into separate sessions for teens and college students and then converged again to hear talks by Chantal Ferrari on Our Lady and Lindsay Hymel on the charismatic gifts of the Holy Spirit. Bishop Sam Jacobs of the Houma-Thibodaux diocese celebrated the Holy Mass on Saturday and preached about our new life as children of God.

Following skits and a talk by the weekend’s emcee, St. Scholastica theology teacher Colin MacIver, the hundreds of youth worshipped Christ in Eucharistic adoration and a Eucharistic procession on Saturday night. After Benediction, Pat Duffy of St. Margaret Mary Parish led praise and worship music and the teens and young adults experienced the baptism of the Holy Spirit much like the events of Pentecost Sunday over 2,000 years ago.

“It (Saturday night) was really powerful. I don’t generally see so many young people in one place worshipping God; it was awesome,” commented Archbishop Rummel High School junior, John Bernius.

On Sunday morning, the retreat-goers broke out into male and female sessions where the guys learned about “Manhood in the Spirit” and the need to sacrifice, and the girls were introduced to Mary as the model woman and encouraged to always seek healing and new life in God.

Throughout the weekend, the teens and young adults were encouraged to meet several available priests for Confession in order to empty their hearts of all that would block God’s love from entering. The young persons were encouraged to believe in the power of God to heal even the worst wounds and hundreds of teens experienced the power of God’s love in new and profound ways. “The whole weekend really changed the way I live my life,” added Bernius.

The final Eucharist was celebrated by Fr. Josh Rodrigue who issued an invitation to those considering priesthood and religious life. About thirty young people came forward while all the other youths prayed for them to discern God’s call in their lives. No matter which vocation each of the participants has, one thing is clear. There is only one way and his name is Jesus.

Glorious Wounds By Alex Lorio

The weekend of April 11 - 12 carried the healing power of the Holy Spirit to numbers of teens and young adults gathered for the annual CCRNO Spring Conference on the edge of the lake at Kenner’s Ponchartrain Center.

The teens and young adults assembled to meet the power of the triune God under the theme, “By His Wounds You Were Healed” (Is 53:5). The Friday night session featured a festival of praise led by the weekend’s emcee, Academy of Our Lady theology teacher, Matt Bourgeois. Bourgeois encouraged the young adults to set aside the night as an opportunity to encounter God’s love in a life changing way. After praise and worship led by St. Scholastic theology teacher Colin MacIver, the Eucharistic Presence of the Christ dwelled among the teens and brought the young people into the encounter that . Bourgeois had encouraged.

“I thought it was very powerful, and a very personal experience. It really gave me time to relax and be with the Lord and that’s something I haven’t been able to do lately,” commented Mount Carmel junior Allison de Cunha.

The night continued with prayer ministry and the Sacrament of Reconciliation available and ended with a benediction by Fr. Bill Henry. Our Lady of Holy Cross College freshman Lamar Edwards, attending the Conference for the first time, offered his thoughts on the evening saying, “I walked in (Friday Night) and knew it was where I needed to be. I saw huge amounts of young people praising God and I knew I had to be a part of it.”

Youth Session attendees awoke early Saturday morning for the day long session featuring a slew of talks, music, skits, and time for God’s healing.

Bourgeois noted that in the modern world teens face many battles and suffer crippling blows from a myriad of decisions, addictions, and lies. In realizing the unconditional love of the Suffering Servant, the youth could meet another who shared their pain and yet had the power to transform their sufferings into wounds of glory. The youth were then offered the opportunity of prayer for healing.

The Saturday session continued with a visit from Archbishop Hughes, talks from Eric and Nicole Cedor, and Our Lady Queen of Peace youth minister, Stacie Reynolds. The renowned Catholic singer Dana offered a testimony of her journey of faith, and Sr. Briege McKenna followed with a message on the importance of trust in the Eucharistic Jesus. McKenna told the youth, “When you see Jesus lifted up in Mass, say, “You are my Jesus and You can heal everything. Because He can and wants to heal everything.”

“Hearing Sr. Briege speak was very inspiring and she told me not to hold back from the Lord and not to think that my problems are too small for Him. She really confirmed to me that I should come to Jesus with all of me, because He can in fact heal everything if it’s good for me,” commented de Cunha.

Following the Holy Mass celebrated by Fr. Bill Henry, the teens broke for dinner and later returned for the concluding night session where they joined in with the adults in a moving rendition of Dana’s “We Are One Body,” written for a previous World Youth Day.

Edwards expressed his awe from his experience of the Conference saying, “It was wonderful Saturday Night seeing everyone come together as the one Body of Christ in unity. It was a very powerful experience of the Spirit.”

To read Alex Lorio's article on the 2008 Holy Spirit Teen and Young Adult Retreat, click here.