Youth gather for discernment retreat in Milaca

Around 40 youth from around the diocese gathered for a three-day overnight discernment retreat from June 19 to June 21, at St. Mary’s Church in Milaca.

The retreat included Mass, prayer, adoration, games, food, and activities. Students also listened to talks and testimonies from religious sisters, priests, deacons and married couples and even enjoyed a concert and guided meditation from Catholic singer and guitarist Luke Spehar.

Retreat participants came to discern and learn more about the different types of vocations. Participants spanned a number of grades from seventh grade and up, with youth in grades four through six joining the retreat one afternoon. The retreat ended with a potluck supper. Young men camped in the church yard, while the young women stayed in the classrooms.

Jennifer Daubner, a member of St. Mary’s, was one of the organizers of the retreat. She said she has had it on her heart for a while to offer an opportunity for a discernment retreat, particularly for young women. Two of Jennifer’s sons, Nicholas and Nathaniel, are seminarians for the Diocese of St. Cloud.

“I wanted the kids to be open… watching my kids go through seminary, I felt there needs to be more for the girls,” she said. “So it started by ‘I’m going to do something for the girls,’ and I was going to pattern it off of the boy vocation retreats, and it morphed into what it is.”

“Everything seems to be building so beautifully in a way that it seems to be orchestrated by the Holy Spirit,” she said.

One retreat participant was 14-year-old Stephan Smith, whose home parish is St. Mary’s. He said he wanted to come on the retreat because he “wanted to make sure that what [I] was thinking of doing was God’s will.”

“I was hoping that God would show me on this retreat, and I think he is,” Smith said. “When I’m at the church or on the church property, I’m always happier.”

Another participant, 18-year-old Christina Hapke and a recent graduate of Chesterton Academy, came from the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis for the retreat. She said her favorite part of the retreat were the talks that discussed “the definitions or the reason why we discern.”

Jennifer’s daughter, 22-year-old Josephine Daubner was also on the retreat. Josephine will begin college at the University of Mary in Bismarck, North Dakota, this fall. She said she has been working through discernment for a while, and was planning to pursue religious life but was told to wait and to focus on her studies. She said she wanted to come on the retreat to “figure out how to discern through the two goods of marriage and religious life.”

“The talks have been really helpful for that,” she said. “They’ve been a lot of really good ones showing the different perspectives. We’ve had priests talk, we’ve had religious sisters talk, we had a married couple come and give a testimony last night, and just seeing the different perspectives has been really helpful.”

Author: Gianna Bonello

Gianna Bonello is a multimedia reporter for The Central Minnesota Catholic Magazine.

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