Finding Hope invites students to encounter Christ as a source of hope at all times, even amid suffering. On this retreat, the youth will gain concrete ways to live in hope throughout their daily lives. Then, they will be encouraged and shown how to share this hope with others. The following are descriptions of the essential sessions included in our Finding Hope 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
Thirsting for Happiness (60 minutes)
Challenge: Sometimes it is a challenge for us to remember that God is our only source of true happiness and that only He can fill the void in our lives. This session examines sources of happiness and deals with the concept that in order to gain a lasting and authentic happiness, we need to develop a relationship with the Lord.
Activity: Students are divided into groups and are allowed to pick from scattered pictures of items or experiences that they think will make them happy. After they are done picking, they discuss their reasons for picking what they did and process why they made those choices and whether their picks will truly make them happy.
Methods and Processing: Hunt for Happiness Challenge, movie clip, teaching, witness talk and small group processing
Finding Hope Amid Suffering (60 minutes)
Challenge: One of our biggest challenges is trying to maintain hope amid suffering. In this session, students are shown that true happiness does not mean we will never experience suffering and that we can still be hopeful even during trying times.
Activity: Participants encounter Jesus through guided meditation and share their thoughts, concerns and questions with Him.
Methods and Processing: Drama, teaching, witness talk, small group sharing and guided meditation
Living in Hope (55 minutes)
Challenge: Sometimes the most challenging part of finding hope in Jesus is trusting in Him. This session equips students with ways to live in hope by teaching that we need to have a relationship with Jesus and to continue to get to know Him in order to trust that He is always walking with us.
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 prayer experience
Helping Others Find Hope (60 minutes)
Challenge: Sometimes it is a challenge to help the people in our lives when they are suffering or struggling. In this session, students will be empowered to help others who are seeking hope.
Activity: Students participate in a Hope Challenge in which they are blindfolded and put in a maze made out of ropes that they need to escape from. They then process the experience.
Methods and Processing: Hope Challenge, witness talk, and small 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 – the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist and our receiving Him at 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, they participate with their team in an activity that helps them see how the specific parts of the Mass help them reach the grail and eternal life with Christ.
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: Young people are suffering many hurts which can become obstacles to growing in their relationship with God. This session helps participants recognize the consequences of holding on to hurts in their lives and the benefits of forgiving others and being forgiven. This session is given before either the Sacrament of Reconciliation or the Hurt Circle experience. It varies in length depending on which follow up experience is chosen and if offering Reconciliation, how many priests are available.
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” Activity
Saving Grace (45 minutes)
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
The Holy Spirit and the Gifts (60 minutes)
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)
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