High school youth draw nearer to Jesus in the Eucharist at ‘Abide in Me’ retreat

The diocesan youth retreat closed Nov. 6 with an evening encounter with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament at St. Monica Church in East Peoria led by Father Eric Bolek, parochial vicar of the Heart of Peoria Catholic Community parishes. (Provided photo)

EAST PEORIA — Nearly 70 high school youth from around the Diocese of Peoria took a day out of their weekend on Saturday, Nov. 6, to encounter Jesus, especially in the Blessed Sacrament.

The diocese’s annual Abide in Me retreat could not take place last year because of the pandemic, and this year was shortened from three days to one.

Retreat speaker Karen Hertzner of Bloomington prays with retreatants beneath a banner of St. Maximilian Kolbe at St. Monica Church in East Peoria. (The Catholic Post/Tom Dermody)

“Earlier in the year we had no idea what November would look like,” said Father Eric Bolek, the priest-overseer of Abide in Me. But the one-day option, held at St. Monica Parish in East Peoria, proved “really powerful” as the youth “encountered the Lord in a new way with the Eucharist.”

The day included talks, activities, adoration, the sacrament of reconciliation, and a Mass celebrated by Coadjutor Bishop Louis Tylka, who later spoke with the retreatants informally during dinner — answering their questions and posing a few of his own.

“WE JOURNEY TOGETHER”

Asked what advice he would give to young people about deepening their relationship with Christ and the church, Bishop Tylka encouraged the youth to take time to pray, listen to God, be involved in their parishes, and “be willing to talk to others about your own experience of your faith — and allow them to share their experiences.”

“That’s how we grow in our faith,” said Bishop Tylka. “We journey together,” such as the youth were doing at the retreat.

Coadjutor Bishop Louis Tylka took part in a wide-ranging question-and-answer exchange with the high school retreatants. (The Catholic Post/Tom Dermody)

Noting that he is doing extra listening around the diocese as part of preparation for a world Synod of Bishops, Bishop Tylka asked the youth for their thoughts on how to reach others for Christ. Their answers included establishing strong youth ministry programs at parishes; having youth-centered Masses; communicating via social media; and demonstrating the importance of the faith in their own lives.

One retreatant asked Bishop Tylka when he decided to be a priest. While he later shared his vocation story, the bishop began by taking a different approach.

“This morning,” he answered. He explained that “when I got up this morning, I had to commit myself again to live the life God has called me to.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: More photos from the retreat have been posted to The Catholic Post’s site on Facebook.

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