“Dear young people, let yourselves be taken over by the light of Christ, and spread that light wherever you are.”-St. John Paul II
This past weekend I had the opportunity to attend Aggie Awakening. It is a retreat that strives to “deepen faith and a relationship with God through a Catholic, student-led, Christian-based retreat ministry for college students.” The thing that shocked me more than anything was just how many college students were willing to give up a weekend of their summer break to come on this retreat. There were 120 retreaters and that doesn’t even include the numerous staff members that served us throughout the weekend. Awakening is held 3 times a year at St. Mary’s Catholic Center, and each time 120 students are “awakened”. Even though 120 retreatants attend, there is still an incredibly long wait list for each retreat. I even applied in both the fall and the spring and had not gotten off the waitlist. It was really beautiful to see so many Catholics come together to grow in their faith.
Events like this give me hope. They give me hope that one day the idea that “young people are leaving the faith” will go away, and that the number of practicing Catholics will once again begin to rise. No one believed in this possibility more than Pope St. John Paul II. His speeches at World Youth Day were incredibly captivating. He had a special gift of instilling courage and hope in the hearts of young Catholics. The effects of his work can still be seen today. In just a few days, millions of Catholics will be flooding the streets of Kraków, Poland, the city where St. John Paul II grew up, to celebrate World Youth Day 2016. In the large crowd will be the future leaders of the Church, the future priests, sisters, mothers, and fathers. These are the people that will set the world ablaze, as St. Catherine of Sienna said. My thoughts and prayers will be with everyone attending. I can’t imagine how happy it will make St. John Paul II to see everyone celebrating this joyful event in his home.