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A reflection on a year gone by in youth retreat work

Siobhain Bradley joined the School Retreats Team in Galway Diocese in September last year and works alongside Sr Aileen Murphy. At the end of her first year she reflects on her experience…

 I have found it hard to write this article and put into words what exactly this year has meant to me. The only way that I can describe it is by saying it has been like a rollercoaster ride that has left me with a taste for more. There have been so many highs since last September…so many moments when I knew that this is exactly where I want and need to be in my life. This is not to say that it has been perfect and that I have not had those days when everything seemed to go wrong, but those are the days that I hand over to God and remember the piece of Scripture:

“He leadeth me beside still waters, he restoreth my soul”. (Psalms 23:2-3 )

 The majority of young people that we have met throughout this year have really been the ones that have left us with the learning. Each day we met new faces, new opinions, new thoughts and new questions. Day after day, the young people of the Galway diocese continued to surprise me in their openness towards their faith. Back in September, I suppose my biggest fear would have been all the negativity that I thought we would encounter. After day one, I knew I had nothing to worry about in that regard. I love our policy here in the centre, that we go out and invite the students to come on retreat with us, if it is not to be this time, then that will be their call and they will go on retreat somewhere else perhaps another time, but for those who do arrive, they come with so much to offer to the day. They make it their day, and although we create the programmes, they guide it forward. It is really a privilege to share in this day with them.

As I journey home in the evening, I think to myself that the media has got the perception of young people so wrong in this country. From my experience with these fabulous young individuals, they appear to be of the few people in this world who place such great emphasis on the Christian values of love, friendship and authenticity, while searching wholeheartedly for fulfilment through their own goals and desires for their lives through their own personal relationship with God. For me at the end of each day, all that is left to say is:

Truly, Yahweh is in this place” (Genesis 28:16)

Siobhain Bradley

This article, together with further information on school retreats in Galway Diocese on http://www.pastoralcentre.ie/school-retreats