Yesterday I made my way to Independence, MO for the Kairos retreat. I arrived at the Franciscan Retreat Center around 3:00pm, only about a 1 hr 45 min drive from the Abbey. One of the sisters showed me around the grounds and to the room where I was staying. We found the rest of the retreat group shortly after- it was not difficult to find 46 high school boys.
When I had Mass at Rockhurst High School for the junior class back in early November, I was impressed by how friendly the young men were. Yesterday, I even recognized a couple faces from before among the group.
I had Mass for the group in the late afternoon, in a small chapel and accompanied them for dinner afterwards. There were a few small group projects and one teacher from Rockhurst helping with the retreat gave a powerful talk about sacramentals. In the evening the students each had 2-3 minutes to offer a reflection or reaction to one of the talks. This process took over two hours, but their weds and insight was so profound. I could sense the Holy Spirit was at work and God was touching their lives in a very real way. Some spoke of the growth in their relationship with God, while others shared of their harrowing experiences and hurt that weighs heavily upon their hearts.
After a while they were invited to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation, sit quietly in prayer, or visit with one of the team leaders. I was the only priest present and I ended up hearing confessions from 10:30pm to 12:30am! It was a tremendously blessed time and opportunity for healing. The Spirit was present and working in the lives of these young men, which was a powerful witness and encouragement to me personally as well.
It is a privilege to serve as a priest, being God’s instrument and observing His power firsthand. Please continue to pray for these young people.