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SATF Retreat Recap

01/25/2009

The third annual retreat for the St. Andrew Task Force was held in January at St. Mary Cathedral School in Gaylord. The event was planned to coincide with the priestly ordination of San Hoyumpa and gathered 32 young men from across the diocese to explore the theme “Stop, Look and Listen.” The retreat, which is designed for young men in 7th-12th grade, was led by Fr. Don Geyman, Delegate for Vocations. The weekend provided a variety of prayer experiences including morning and evening prayer, Eucharistic Adoration and Benediction, Sacrament of Reconciliation, as well as attending the Ordination ceremony and Mass. Seminarians Peter Wigton, Matt Cowan and Tyler Bischoff each presented talks on the theme. Peter spoke on the first component: to Stop. Peter encouraged participants to stop periodically in their daily lives for prayer and to take time to be with Christ. It is in those moments that He will show us who we are to be as our vocation is not of our own doing, but is something revealed to us by the Lord. Peter shared his insights as to three “R’s” of stopping: 1) To Rest or retreat – to take time away from busy schedules to rest in the Lord; 2) To Reflect on who God is and to allow God to show us who we are and who we can become; 3) To Resolve to follow God’s will for our lives, whatever it may entail. Peter promised the retreatants that if they started doing these three things for just five minutes each day they would see a transformation in their lives. Matt Cowan spoke on the second component of the weekend’s theme: to Look. He stressed that it is never too early to think about God’s call in our lives, even if it may not become clear until later. He suggested those gathered look to scripture for how to live our common vocation as followers of Christ and to look for help by praying – even when it’s difficult. Matt said, “If I only prayed when I felt like it, I might not pray very much." He told the students to look inside themselves for the gifts and talents given to them by God – to look for their desires and passions which come from God and then to keep track of them to see which ones are recurrent. He explained that often individuals do not recognize their own gifts and that it is important to look to what others see in us. Finally, Matt told the boys to look to the example of the Apostles. They were not perfect, yet the Lord did great things through them and the same is true of us today. Tyler Bischoff spoke on the third component of the weekend’s theme: to Listen. Listening takes effort in our day of cell phones and Ipods. He asked, “Do we really listen to God and to each other?” Tyler used three scripture stories to illustrate the topic of listening. The first was the call of Moses from the burning bush in which the Lord spoke to Moses while he was in his normal daily routine. Secondly, he discussed the call of Samuel and how the elder Eli helped Samuel recognize the call. Tyler also challenged the retreatants with the question, “Who is Eli for you?” Finally, he discussed Paul and how Jesus called him while Paul was on the wrong path. Bishop Cooney was on hand to welcome participants and Fr. Charlie Donajkowski, Pastor at St. Ignatius, Rogers City and St. Casimir, Posen joined the young men to tell about the adventure of his journey to the priesthood, sharing wonderful stories about the people and places to which God had led him. A highlight was his story about fishing in the Sea of Galilee. Fr. Charlie referred to diocesan priests as “family priests,” because they become part of a parish and diocesan family in their ministry. Fr. Raymond Cotter, Pastor at St. Mary in Mio and St. Francis of Assisi in Lewiston, also dropped by for some information conversation and dinner. Seminarians Gerald Okoli and Adam Chittle planned an evening during which the boys’ were challenged on their knowledge of the Catholic faith while engaged in spirited competition with lively adaptations of popular games such as Jeopardy and Pictionary. They also helped supervise and participated in the several hours of basketball, dodgeball and other sports offered during the retreat. Other adults staffing the retreat included Dr. John Olesnavage, Ken Arndt, Kim Machurski, Howard and Martha Norris, Bill and June Brown, and Will MacMaster. The Saint Andrew Task Force is an effort to provide young men around the diocese with opportunities to develop their faith and discover where God may be leading them as they grow into Catholic men. In addition to the annual retreat other opportunities for service, prayer and learning are offered. For more information contact Fr. Don Geyman at 989.732.5147 or via e-mail at dgeyman@dioceseofgaylord.org.

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