Monday, June 2, 2014

Encounter 2014: Catholic Conference

Hello all! Life has been quite full of school things lately. When they say grad school is demanding, they are right! I've just about completed my May term and going to start my summer practicum full time soon. 

Hello from Sister Erin! Ha! Joking...
Aside from school this past weekend I went to St. Louis for Encounter 2014 which a is young adult Catholic conference. I almost didn't go because of my big exam that Monday, but I was convinced to go and so happy that I went. It was perfect timing to recharge and focus on my spiritual life. 

I arrived in St. Louis on Friday night and caught the last session of the night which was called "Post College Life." What happens after college and how to deal with the unknown is what was discussed. Jeremy Rivera led the talk and he had a lot of past experiences that he shared. There was also an open mic so others in the crowd were able to ask questions. The talk was ok, but not great. I thought it needed more substance. It was a good start to the conference though. 

Saturday was the best day! It was full of big group and smaller talks. In the morning we had mass and Ike Ndolo was the singer/band the entire conference. Let me tell you, he was awesome!! I'm not used to upbeat music during mass and church events but I loved the energy in the room and singing worship songs. Mass was led by Father Chris Martin who is a young priest in St. Louis and the vocations director in that archdiocese. It is great to have a young face on the altar. The homily, prayer, and music made a good and prayerful mass. 

Later that morning I went to a talk by Fr. Chris Martin called "Discerning God's Will." I gave this talk two thumbs us. Father shared a lot his past experiences with figuring out his plan by in and out of seminary. One analogy that I would like to share about what he said is this:
Discernment means choosing between multiple (or two) good things. It's not like choosing in general in which there is likely a good vs. bad choice. Discernment is like going to a restaurant when you are starving. You have to choose between ALL the good things on the menu. You can't go wrong. But...if you don't choose in a timely manner then you continue to starve and suffer. Like discernment, it may take some time to choose and be led by God, but you can't take you whole life to pick the best. Take time with God and make that choice and be serious about your discernment. 

Lunch and study break followed for me. After, there was a big group gathering and the talk was about "hunger and desires." Basically that bottom line was God can only fulfill our greatest desires, it may be tempting to gain desires from earthly things, but God is the answer. The breakout talk after that was from a Sister that was awesome as well (awesome was a theme here is you couldn't tell ;) ). A quote that I loved from this talk: "The entire life of good Christians is the exercise of holy desire"- St. Augustine. Falling to God and being completely open to him will make your life more holy and God can complete your deepest desires. Very powerful! 

That night after dinner was adoration. BEST ADORATION EVER. I've only been to Eucharistic Adoration a few other times but this one was amazing and I could tell the Holy Spirit was truly there. The priest and servers walked around the entire room with the Eucharist in the Monstrance. People were crying with arms in the air, I've never seen anything like that before. It was like God was only a few feet away. Music with the entire group singing made the moment beautiful and an experience. Confession was offered as well and that just topped off the night. Much needed and I appreciated the multiple priests that volunteered their time. I was able to hang out with a lot of new people in my church group that I didn't know well. It's always great to make new friends :)

I would say it was one of the best weekends I've had in awhile. It helped me to reconnect to the true purpose of life. If you ever have the opportunity to attend, I highly recommend it :) 

Whole Group Picture

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