Freedom Challenge Retreat
The Freedom challenge retreat addresses the concept that the modern sense of “I can do whatever I want, when I want” is not true freedom. This retreat will bring students into a deeper understanding of a true freedom: one in which they will encounter the peace and freedom that Jesus gives to help set themselves and others free. Then they will be encouraged to share this true freedom with friends and family. The following are descriptions of the essential sessions included in our Freedom retreat, followed by additional optional sessions to enhance your retreat experience.
Welcome / Opening Prayer & Praise / Ice Breakers (15-30 minutes)
Participants meet the SPIRITUS team and are introduced to the retreat experience.
Activity: Retreat attendees participate in an icebreaker activity to feel comfortable with the team and each other.
Methods and Processing: Large group participation
Freedom Can Shackle You (60 minutes) (All Bound Up Challenge)
Challenge: Sometimes it is a challenge for youth to understand what true freedom is. This session deals with the concept that the world’s view of freedom without limits actually shackles us.
Activity: Students participate in an All Bound Up Challenge Activity in which they are split into four groups, and each group is bound in a different way. Then they are all asked to perform tasks that may be difficult for some to do, depending upon how they are bound. This demonstrates how difficult it can be to live our lives how we are supposed to when we are shackled by the things that we think will make us free, but that really enslave us.
Methods and Processing: Large group discussion, All Bound Up Challenge activity, witness talk and small group processing
Set Truly Free by Jesus (60 minutes) (1:1 Prayer)
Challenge: One of the biggest challenges in today’s society is how to get true freedom. This session helps students explore God’s gift of free will. They will also encounter God’s greatest gift, Jesus, who is the Truth and the only one who can set us truly free.
Activity: Students experience 1:1 prayer with a SPIRITUS team member, during which the students invite Jesus to set them free from the difficulties in their lives.
Methods and Processing: Large group discussion, drama, witness talk, reflection sheet, and 1:1 prayer
Living with True Freedom (60 minutes) (Virtue Walk)
Challenge: Sometimes the most challenging part to experiencing true freedom is the ability to live it out. This session teaches students about strengthening their virtues so that they can learn to choose the good and live in the freedom of Christ.
Activity: Students participate in a “virtue walk” to assess and process how their good choices add up and make it easier to choose the good more often.
Methods and Processing: Virtue Walk activity, teaching, witness talk and small group sharing
True Freedom is Meant to be Shared (45 minutes) (Small Group Brainstorming)
Challenge: Once students come to understand and experience true freedom, it is natural to want others to have that same experience. This session helps students identify ways that they can help lead others to true freedom.
Activity: Students gather in small groups and brainstorm specific ways how they can model true freedom and how to invite others to experience it as well. They then share their ideas with the large group.
Methods and Processing: Video clip, witness talk, small group brainstorming and large group sharing
Retreat Closing Prayer and Praise (15 min)
Participants reflect on the retreat and the presence of God’s loving guidance in their lives through prayer and praise.
Activity: SPIRITUS team leads group in prayer and praise.
Methods and Processing: Large group participation
Questing for the Grail (75 minutes) (Mass Challenge)
Challenge: Young Catholics often take one of the most important aspects of our Catholic faith for granted – participating in Mass. This session gives them a new, exciting way of thinking about the liturgy and helps them to get excited about going to Mass.
Activity: Retreat attendees take part in the Mass Challenge. After watching a video clip from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, the participants are placed in teams to answer questions about the Mass in order to earn bridge pieces and reach the grail.
Methods and Processing: Teaching, movie clip, Mass Challenge activity, witness talk, personal reflection, and small group discussion
Seeking and Giving Forgiveness (60-120 minutes) (Reconciliation Prep)
Challenge: Many young people never consider how holding on to hurts in our lives can become an obstacle to growing in our relationship with God. This session helps participants recognize the consequences of holding on to hurts in their lives and the effects of forgiving others and being forgiven. They discover how handing hurts over to God enables His followers to live as God intends. This session is given before the Sacrament of Reconciliation or the Hurt Circle experience and varies in length depending on the size of the group, whether the group is having Reconciliation or the Hurt Circle, and number of available priests if having Reconciliation.
Activity: Sacrament of Reconciliation or the Hurt Circle, depending upon the groups’ choice. The Hurt Circle is an option for groups who choose not to or are unable to include a formal Reconciliation service as part of their retreat experience. If doing the Hurt Circle, participants experience a quiet ceremony in which they are able to symbolically hand over past hurts, pains or concerns to God.
Methods and Processing: Large group discussion, witness talk, Holding on to Hurts demonstration and small group sharing, followed by Sacrament of Reconciliation or Hurt Circle
Saving Grace (45 minutes) (Grace Demonstration)
Challenge: Many young people do not realize how present God’s grace is in each and every person’s life. This session helps participants discover God’s presence in their own lives.
Activity: Through a grace demonstration, participants symbolically witness the presence and growth of God’s graces in their lives as they help identify and remove the effects of sins and struggles.
Methods and Processing: Teaching, Grace Demonstration and small group sharing
Importance of Prayer (60 minutes) (1:1 Prayer)
Challenge: At a young age, most Catholics are taught basic prayers, such as the Our Father and Hail Mary. But many do not understand that there are other ways to pray besides prayers that they have memorized. This session helps participants learn the importance of being open to Jesus in prayer so that we can develop a relationship with Him.
Activity: Each retreat attendee will experience one-on-one prayer with a SPIRITUS team member to help them hand over their struggles to Christ.
Methods and Processing: Witness talk, teaching, and one-on-one and/or other prayer experience(s)
The Holy Spirit and the Gifts (60 minutes) (Spirit Alive!)
Challenge: Many Catholics have difficulty understanding what the gifts of the Spirit mean and how these gifts relate to their daily lives. This session helps participants understand the gifts of the Spirit and how believers can use these gifts for the benefit of their lives and the lives of others. They are given a fun and easy way to understand the gifts and will then use those gifts in practical teen situations where God’s Spirit can help them.
Activity: Participants are placed into teams and race against each other to identify which gifts of the Holy Spirit would be best used in different scenarios.
Methods and Processing: Teaching, Spirit Alive Challenge activity, witness talk, and large group processing
Recognizing God’s Blessings (60 minutes) (Letter from sponsors/Parents or Small Group Affirmation)
Challenge: In our culture, it is easy for people to focus on things they want instead of appreciate the blessings God has given them. In this session, participants recognize the blessings of family and faith and are given the opportunity to affirm others in their group and build community.
Activity: Participants are affirmed by members of their small group. Letters of encouragement from parents and/or sponsors may also be incorporated into this session.
Methods and Processing: Video clip of Bruce Almighty, large group discussion, witness talk, and individual reflection