By Mallory Matt
More than 25 young adults joined together in fun and fellowship at the MCM Eleganté June 11 for Family Life Ministry’s The Never Retreat, based on Proverbs 30:30, “The lion, the mightiest of beasts, retreats before nothing!”
“You as young adults are the Church’s present and the Church’s future,” director of Family Life Ministry Jerome Cabeen said kicking off the one-day event. “You can make big differences in your community and this retreat is meant to encourage that — to tell you not to throw up that white flag and surrender and say, ‘It’s too much.’ Each of us is going to fall — it’s part of our human nature. But are you going to get up and continue to move forward? This retreat is bringing together like-minded individuals who will encourage you to never retreat from the hardships and big challenges.”
Among the attendees was St. Pius X, Beaumont, parishioner Kathryn Embersics who was searching for a way to revive her spiritual life.
“I know right now in my life I’ve been in that place of dryness, and I wanted something to help refresh me,” she said. “More than anything, I wanted to find people my age who are struggling with the same thing. And what greater way to do that than at something like this? I think, overall from this retreat, I’ll take away many more friends I’ve gotten to know here, and the experience that we’re not alone in this fight.”
Facilitator Jimmy Mitchell, musician and international speaker from Nashville, shared his relatable perspective as a young adult. He spoke about the path of salvation, “from Creation to Pentecost,” using stories from his life where he recognized his journey of faith. He described his own “resurrection” after his older brother died.
Mitchell was heart-broken and ridden with anger and guilt for not getting closer to his brother before his death. But at the North Georgia Life Teen Retreat about four years ago, Mitchell prayed for his wounds to be healed during adoration.
“There were these two boys by me, and I think I may have been the only one who overheard one of them say ‘I love you, brother.’ And I felt like it was my brother talking to me,” Mitchell said.
He later saw the older brother put his hand on his younger brother’s shoulder and then suddenly felt a youth minister friend put his hand on his own shoulder.
“Afterwards, my friend came up to me and told me, ‘I felt God asking me to put my hand on your shoulder. And he wanted me to tell you three things: that your brother loves you, he’s proud of you, and that I should call you ‘Jimbo’ from now on.’
“’Jimbo’ was my childhood name,” Mitchell said. “There’s no way he would’ve known that.”
The day concluded with Mass celebrated by Father Michael Jamail where he spoke in his homily about learning to trust God.
“Do we trust that God has humbled Himself enough to enter into creation — the uncreated becoming the created; the infinite life becoming wrapped in death and crucifixion?” he said about Jesus. “‘Do you believe that I represent the love of God for you in human flesh? And that nothing — nothing can change that.’
“We may fail in this world, but before the one who loves us infinitely, we cannot fail,” Father Jamail said. “I’m an old priest and that’s what I’ve learned.”
Mitchell also related to his fellow young adults that today was their opportunity to step back from a culture “where business is our currency,” and learn together of God’s constant pursuit of His people.
“So when we say, ‘We never retreat,’ it’s because Christ never retreats. He’s the lion and the lamb of our souls,” Mitchell said. “Maybe you’re like me where you’re still struggling with habitual sin or you’re still trying to find your place in this world. But the great opportunity we have is to take a giant step forward together to understanding this epic love affair — this incredible romance that is God’s perfect and passionate love for us.”