Written by: Michaela Mencacci
What do you think of when you hear the words, “Father’s house?”
Do you think of God? Of peace and quiet?
On the weekend of February 2-4, a small group of students and FOCUS missionaries attended the Father’s House retreat in Wimberly, Texas and received tons of peace through meditation, and prayer.
The students and missionaries who went were Brittany Betik, Abbi Vinci, Amanda Graves, Jake Olson and Megan Callaghan.
“The retreat was focused on [our] relationship with the Father and getting through the battle for [our] souls and safely into the Father’s House,” Abbi Vinci, student at Stephen F. Austin, said. “The retreat itself was one based on personal meditation and relevant talks.”
The students were able to build their relationship with God and find inner peace within a busy spring semester.
“I love retreats because they are a great time to get away from the world and re-focus on God,” said Brittany Betik, SFA student. “I definitely needed to do that … amidst this crazy semester of student teaching. I also really wanted to see some of my friends from SFA and hang out with other Catholics who also wanted to grow in their relationship with God.”
The retreat was meant “to learn and experience the Father's love for us. Not [as] humans, but as individuals,” Amanda Graves, FOCUS missionary, said. “Me, Amanda, knowing that I am loved by the Father and that I am good.”
The students were able to stay at a jewish camp in Wimberly during the retreat.
“We stayed at Camp Young Judea in Wimberly, Texas,” Betik said. “It was a really beautiful camp, full of open spaces, trees, lots of deer, some super annoying geese and even a hidden tree house you have to cross a stream to get to.”
Along with the beauty, “there were plenty of benches and areas to sit and meditate or walk around with all the people you know [or] met there,” Vinci said.
The retreat had keynote speakers and meditation time for all of the students.
“Generally, we had a 45 minute talk, 50 minutes to work through a meditation, and 45 minutes for small groups,” Graves said. “The meditations walked us through the battle of mission and how crucial it is to remain looking at the Father in the midst of the battle.”
“One of the speakers described [Campy Young Judea] as similar to Jerusalem.” Betik said. “I’ve never been to Jerusalem so I cannot testify to that myself, but it sure felt like what I imagined Jerusalem to be. Sunday was especially beautiful because the sun finally came out and the weather was glorious!”
Everyone from St. Mary’s who went all said they would definitely go again.
“The talks will never be the same and even with the same meditations you are never in the same place and God wants to show you something new each time,” Vinci said.
A lot of the student’s said that the meditation time was their favorite part of the retreat.
“My favorite part of the retreat was all of our meditation and prayer time,” Betik said. “We had several self-led meditations where we got to go off by ourselves and enter into these moments in time with the Lord and let Him move in our hearts and minds.”
“Meditations are my favorite thing because I do better with pictures than with words and Ignation meditation is my favorite prayers,” Vinci said.
Throughout this meditation time, the students and FOCUS missionaries were able to experience God in a very personal and intimate way.
“I was able to learn how the father loves me and who I was created to be,” Graves said. “I know that the Father's love is endless and that he will always have gifts to give me.”
Here are some things that our students and FOCUS members from St. Mary’s want to tell you after attending this retreat:
“We are good. The Father has made every single one of us good & with his love. He wants us to abide in him. The more we busy ourselves with the temptations of society, the less we are able to receive our true identities as daughters and sons of our Father in Heaven.”