During difficult times of battle, retreat is necessary to reenergize the troops and replenish supplies. The same is true for the spiritual life. In times of spiritual difficulty, retreats are necessary in order to rest and reawaken the soul. From June 23-25, 2017, a group of 43 young people attended the Emmaus Retreat at St. George Monastery in Riverside.
The Emmaus Retreat has been offered by St. Peter Diocese since 2008, yet it never fails to change a group of complete strangers into more of a family by the end of it. The following are personal reflections on the experience of young people who attended.
This Emmaus retreat has truly been an eye-opening experience. I learned just how valuable every human being is, because they are made in the image and likeness of God. For that reason, we should always respect and love others no matter what they may be going through. I’m so happy to say I now have a multitude of brothers and sisters that I can always go to in my time of need. My Emmaus family will forever be in my heart! -Delcy Mansour
Going into Emmaus I really had no idea what to expect. I walked in anticipating that I would leave with more knowledge about our Catholic faith, meet new people and come back and everything would be the same. However, this did not happen. For four days straight we laughed together, we cried together and we all realized that even though everyone’s going through their own battles in life, we’re one big family united by our faith and love for one another. This trip was the greatest blessing to me, and not only did it help me to get out of myself and my own problems which are incredibly minimal in the scope of everything, but there was something in me that rekindled afterward, and it’s a deeper faith and trust in God that he will guide all of the retreatants along with myself, on all of our present and future endeavors. -Veronica Talia
The Emmaus retreat was a great experience for me. Just hearing everyone’s story and the courage it took to open up and share those stories, made it easier for me to open up. I really felt like we became a family and were brought closer to God during the Retreat. Even though we were without phones, TV’s, and stayed in the same place for four days, it was awesome to see how we all enjoyed every minute of it because of our time together during all the activities and prayers. Overall, I was very happy I decided to go on the Emmaus retreat and definitely feel like my relationship with God is stronger than it has ever been. -Chris Mansour
At first, I was very close minded about going to this retreat. I thought just because I did not know anyone I was never going to know anyone. I also thought because of my own fears and excuses I should not go on this retreat, although I was very wrong. This retreat has opened my eyes to many things. One of which is that your own problems, although you might think are many, are not comparable to the person sitting next to you. Everyone is on their journey to Christ, and it will never be a straight road. I have also myself become a very humble person. I, before this trip, was very stubborn, angry, hurt, and very far away from Christ. As of now I feel like I have grown closer, and am changing many things in my life to keep bringing myself closer whether it is driving an hour in traffic to get to bible study or even include prayers throughout my day. All in all this retreat has for sure changed me for the better, I have in the end made many brothers and sisters, and built, and am still building, my relationship with the Lord. If I was never signed up by Father Ankido on this retreat I would have never experienced this retreat and would have never met the people on this retreat. If the time for this retreat was not meant for me I would have never made it, but it was and I will be forever grateful to anyone who encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone to better my life. Thank you so very much. -Diana Yacoub
It’s like that saying goes, “you think you know, but you have no idea.” That is what I have been telling my friends and family about the Emmaus retreat since I’ve been back. Every single moment from the beginning to the end of the journey, was not only memorable, but inspiring. Emmaus has opened my eyes to realize that we are NEVER alone. I and the rest of God’s children that went on this retreat have created a bond that will be cherished forever. There aren’t enough words to describe the pure joy I felt afterwards, and I am SO thankful to everyone who invested their time and energy in putting the retreat together in order for us to get closer to God. God is love<3 – Amanda Aziz