When it comes to forming young people into lifelong Catholics, sociologists have found that a key factor is allowing teens to engage in many different religious experiences. But given the pandemic restrictions that prevent many in-person events, it’s hard for parents, youth ministers, and catechists to find great resources for the young people in their spiritual care. Thankfully, a few organizations have stepped in to offer virtual retreats and conferences that can encourage teens and young adults on their religious journeys.
Catechetical organization Array of Hope has coordinated Rise Up, a live, interactive virtual retreat for parishes, schools, and other Catholic organizations seeking to catechize and evangelize during the COVID-19 pandemic. The event is intended to support parishes and dioceses in maintaining effective and meaningful faith formation for the coming school year and plan their reopening with some stability. The event brings together the following components:
- Solid catechesis
- Personal faith stories from young adults
- Prayer experiences
- Musical performances
- Live interaction with participants
All of this is intended “to provide a powerful, faith-building experience that helps young people grow in their love of Jesus Christ,” according to their website. The event can be a Confirmation retreat or could be used for family formation as parents are welcome to participate alongside their children.
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2Jesuit Spiritual Center Virtual Retreats
The Jesuit Spiritual Center’s Youth Ministry team offers a two-hour live retreat for young people, which can be used with groups of up to 40 participants. Religion teachers and campus ministers could plan it as a retreat opportunity for their students, or parish Youth Ministers and Directors of Religious Education might organize the retreat for youth groups or Confirmation candidates. The event includes the following elements:
- Witness talks
- Teaching on topics of Ignatian Spirituality
- Individual reflection
- Small group discussions
Greater offers an online retreat specifically for Confirmation candidates. Their website explains,
Our online Confirmation retreat is not another avenue for more catechesis, but rather a chance to create an environment of conversion and give young people opportunities for real world encounters with the Jesus who loves them.
Greater offers distinct accounts for parish leaders and for students, and a parish leader account is not required for students to participate. The student account comes with the following content:
- Either a four-week or two-day retreat option
- Over 5 hours of video content
- 12 teaching sessions
- 4 virtual prayer experiences
- 24 daily reflection prompts
- Printable completion certificates
The parish leader account includes the following components:
- All student retreat content
- Parish leader roadmap
- Student progress reports for all students in your parish retreat
- Leaders Facebook group
The event was just announced, so registration isn’t open and details aren’t yet available, but teens can mark their calendars for Life Teen’s first Virtual Teen Retreat on October 16-18, 2020. Keep an eye on their website (which offers helpful resources for ministering to teens during this “new normal” phase) and Facebook page for updates.
Teens deserve excellent faith formation and opportunities to encounter Christ in prayer and through community, even with the restrictions brought about by COVID-19. These retreats can bring Christ’s presence into their homes and help them grow closer to Him.
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