Teens walk with Jesus at Diocese of Peoria’s Abide in Me retreat in Bloomington

Father Eric Bolek carried Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament to each participant in the Abide in Me diocese-wide youth retreat for a moment of personal encounter and adoration. The 40-hour retreat for high school students took place Nov. 2-4 at Corpus Christi School in Bloomington. Father Bolek is chaplain of The High School of Saint Thomas More in Champaign and parochial vicar of St. Matthew in Champaign and St. Boniface, Seymour. (Provided photo/Daryl Wilson)

BLOOMINGTON — Nearly 100 high school students from across the Diocese of Peoria accepted an invitation to be in Jesus’ eucharistic Presence throughout a weekend retreat called Abide in Me hosted Nov. 2-4 at Corpus Christi School here.

“The whole mission of the retreat is to really give each of the youth a profound and intimate encounter with the loving and healing presence of Jesus in the Eucharist,” said Sarah Hogan, one of a 15-member team that planned and supervised Abide in Me.

Sister M. Bernadette Morse, FSGM, shares the joy that comes from loving Christ with those attending the Abide in Me diocese-wide youth retreat. Sister Bernadette, who teaches theology at Alleman High School in Rock Island, was emcee for the retreat. (Provided photo/Daryl Wilson)

This year’s retreat was based on the Gospel story of the disciples encountering Jesus on the road to Emmaus following the resurrection. The students were invited to symbolically walk on the road and encounter Jesus through Scripture, various talks and meditations, the celebration of the Mass, and having the Eucharist exposed atop a tower of candles in the center of the school gym.

“The pinnacle of the weekend is a unique and intimate encounter with the Blessed Sacrament on Saturday night when the youth have the opportunity for individual adoration of Jesus,” said Hogan, director of religious education at St. Vincent de Paul Parish and School in Peoria. Father Eric Bolek, retreat coordinator, carried the monstrance to each retreatant for a moment of personal encounter and adoration.

“Being that close to the Eucharist is so powerful because I can feel the love of Christ,” said Julia Pfautsch, a senior at Peoria Notre Dame. “This is something that I will hold on to for forever and hope to experience throughout my life.”

The retreat also included breakout sessions on vocations — including to the priesthood, religious life, and marriage — and discussions on the moral challenges facing youth in today’s culture.

Sister M. Bernadette Morse, FSGM, a theology teacher at Alleman High School in Rock Island, served as emcee for the retreat. Major talks were given by Jack Maggiore of Epiphany Parish in Bloomington and Amelia Misiak, formerly of St. Mary Parish in Pontiac and now a full-time youth minister in Wisconsin.

Praise music throughout the weekend was supplied by a band led by Luke Spehar of Minneapolis, Minnesota.

EDITOR’S NOTE: An album of photos from the Abide in Me retreat will be posted on The Catholic Post’s Facebook site. 

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