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Jr. High Gather for SATF Retreat
Twenty Junior High boys from across the Diocese of Gaylord gathered at St. Mary's School in Gaylord June 11-13 for a St. Andrew Task Force Junior High Retreat. The group focused on the theme "Casting Out into the Deep Water." A highlight of the retreat was attending the priestly ordination of Deacons Sylvestre Obwaka and Gerald Okoli. The experience provided witness to the completion of a journey these two men began when they casted out into the deep in their vocation quest. Prior to the ordination ceremony, Bishop Bernard A. Hebda joined the group for breakfast Saturday morning and shared the story of his journey to the priesthood. "I felt the call from a very young age and was a member of a group much like the St. Andrew Task Force," Bishop Hebda stated. He also shared how through prayer, participation in the Eucharist, and a variety of life experiences over time ultimately led him to accept his call to the priesthood. Bishop Hebda blessed and presented each of the junior high boys with a special Fishers of Men rosary which was handmade by Shirley Schopieray of Traverse City and her daughter Diane. Crafted from fishing line used for nets and lead-free tin split shot sinkers, along with an ichthus charm, the rosaries powerfully reflect the theme of the retreat and Jesus call to the disciples to Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men. (Mark 1:16-20) Also attending this retreat were eight High School members of the St. Andrew Task Force and several seminarians of the Diocese of Gaylord. They assisted by organizing games, leading prayer and rosary services, as well as encouraging and interacting with the young men While most of the weekend focused on vocations to the priesthood, two adult chaperones for the retreat discussed another vocation many men are called to -- fatherhood. Ken Arndt and Todd Zielinski, chaperones from Gaylord and both members of the Vocations Advisory Committee, shared their experiences as Catholic men living their vocation as married men and fathers. Mr. Arndt explained how he converted his own father, who was quite ill, to the Catholic faith. He concluded his talk by telling the story of Job and reminding the attendees to always pray for their fathers. Mr. Zielinski spoke about what it is like to be a father, his face beaming as he shared that his greatest joy of fatherhood was witnessing the births of his children. Along with the presentations, there was plenty of time for basketball, cards, dodgeball, ping-pong and socializing. The young men experienced time set apart for Eucharistic Adoration and the Sacrament of Reconciliation was also available. The retreat concluded with Eucharistic Liturgy on Sunday morning with Fr. Don Geyman, Director of Vocations, presiding. Special thanks to St. Mary Cathedral School for use of their facility and to Kim Machurski, Ken Arndt, Lori Fagerlie, Peggy LeBlanc, and Bill and June Brown who prepared meals for the group and also served as chaperones, along with Todd Zielinski and John Olesnavage. The retreat is one of several events held annually for young men and was funded in part by gifts to the annual Catholic Services Appeal. For more information regarding the St. Andrew Task Force or vocations efforts in the diocese, please contact Fr. Donald Geyman at 989.732.5147.