The SFNO District’s 2018 Called & Chosen Vocation Retreats took place during the first half of the winter semester. The Retreats are annual gatherings offered by the District’s Office of Education Young Lasallians Programs, with support from the District’s Office of Vocation Ministry.
The first young men’s retreat was held January 13-15, followed by the young women’s retreat February 17-19. Both took place at St. Joseph’s Camp, California. The second young men’s retreat was held March 2-4 at Greenwell Springs, Louisiana.
Forty-four young men representing 14 schools, and nineteen young women representing seven schools, each participated in one of the three scheduled retreats. Staff members from the District’s Office of Education, as well as vocation coordinators from the participants’ schools, rounded out the attendees.
Participating schools included Archbishop Rummel High School; Cathedral High School, El Paso; Christian Brothers High School; De La Salle High School, Concord; De La Salle High School, New Orleans; De La Salle North Catholic; Justin-Siena High School; La Salle Catholic College Preparatory; La Salle High School, Yakima; Mullen High School, Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory; Saint Michael’s High School; Saint Paul’s School; and San Miguel High School.
Each year, the Called & Chosen Retreats bring together high school juniors and seniors wishing to consider more closely their vocation by reflecting on who they are and who God is calling them to be. The Lasallian tenets of faith, service, and community provide a framework by which students consider their personal journeys up to the present. They consider their own experiences, as well as reflect on those models of faith, service, and community that have helped shape them into who they are now becoming.
The retreats provide time for prayer, personal reflection, small group sharing, and vocation talks by those called to marriage, the single vocation, and religious life. Through the accompaniment of school moderators, members of the District Vocation Team, and other support staff, the students spend time discerning where God is leading them and how they can respond to God’s successive calls. The hope is that students leave with insight and encouragement. As one student participant commented, “A highlight for me was to know that, no matter which vocation I choose, God will always be there.”
Students regularly express the impact of being able to come together from Lasallian schools across the District and build community with one another. This happens through both the formal activities noted, and also through informal times such as evening socials and recreation. In addition, each retreat allows students a time of personal prayer which leads into the communal celebration of the Sunday liturgy. As one student participant commented, “I will take away new friends and a deeper understanding of my faith.”
The retreats close with an invitation for students to consider their ongoing participation in the Lasallian mission beyond high school, and with a commissioning prayer service in which students are encouraged to go forth in a spirit of service rooted in the Gospel. Offering her observations of this year’s retreats, Kenenna Amuzie, Director of Young Lasallian Programs commented, “The profound spirit of openness shown by the students was incredibly moving.” Brother Chris Patiño, FSC, Director of Vocation Ministry, added, “It is incredibly hopeful to see these young people express a deeper sense of the presence of God in their lives.”
Story courtesy Brother Chris Patiño, FSC, Director of Vocation Ministry. Photos courtesy Simon Rebullida, Justin-Siena High School vocation coordinator, except March 2-4 group photo, courtesy Brother Chris Patiño, FSC.