"This definitely changed me."
"I can't wait any longer; I need to start praying now."
"Something just clicked this time and I was so happy."
These are only soundbites. I wish we would've recorded all of the teen testimonies during the bus ride back to Cincinnati. They were powerful witnesses to what God had done during that weekend in Steubenville (July 16-18).
The Youth Conference marked a full year for me at St. Gertrude's in terms of events, as I was first introduced to the group for the 2009 trip to Steubenville.
This year, you teens were open to God's love and grace in a way I had not seen before. It was amazing to talk with you during the weekend and hear how the Holy Spirit was moving in your lives. It was amazing to listen to the testimonies on the way home and hear about how the Holy Spirit changed your hearts.
As I continued to reflect upon these experiences, a few other things stood out.
The first item is that how you experienced Steubenville wasn't out of the blue. All year we have been working on the relationship with Christ, on going deeper. The Core Team has been praying for your continued conversion, and ours as well. Steubenville wasn't an accident. You were called there. You were gently pushed by the grace that has been increasing throughout the course of the year, in our retreats, Adoration nights, Sunday meetings, etc.
My second observation deals with the group as a whole. There is no icebreaker that can take your relationships as deep as praying with one another can. And over the course of the weekend, I saw this in action. As you prayed with one another, for one another, your relationships deepened. You were vulnerable with your brothers and sisters and your relationships grew. This became especially apparent during adoration on Saturday as many of you voluntarily started praying with your peers. Experiences like these are a testament to the power of the spiritual bond between people; there is something more there, something of substance, something that penetrates the superficial crust that has covered us over the years.
I will end my comments here. If you wish to post some comments about the weekend, that would be awesome! I'd love to have the conversation continue.