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Archives The Metanoia Retreat: ‘incredibly inspiring’

By Kelly Donnelly
Contributing writer

On November 18 and 19, five young adults gathered for the first Metanoia retreat at Wadhams Hall.
Led by Lorraine Turgeon, the diocesan Director of Young Adult Ministry, and Father Al Houser, the 24-hour retreat was truly a reflection of the Greek word “metanoia”, which means changing one’s mind.

The retreat consisted of Adoration, Liturgy of the Hours, reflections, scriptural meditations largely based on Ignatian exercises, and time for individual spiritual direction and Reconciliation. The retreat was formatted around the Last Supper, with reflections drawing comparisons between our lives and the Last Supper, particularly the cost and rewards of discipleship. This was done in reflective, creative ways (I won’t give away all the details and surprises for people who hope to attend a retreat in the future!).            

Throughout the retreat, I (and through our discussions, the rest of the retreat attendees) felt that the retreat was not only a time to spiritually recharge, but to more fully recognize God’s love for us and the need for us to trust. 

A summary of William Faulkner’s short story, “The Bear” was used and I felt that the story in many ways epitomized my retreat experience. The story describes a boy who seeks a bear, and though he knows the bear is watching him and is aware of the bear’s presence, he is only able to see the bear when he strips himself of his gun and compass - his “safety nets”. 

Similarly, as we learned (or in many cases, rediscovered) on the retreat, God is always present, but we must strip ourselves of the things we cling to that prevent us from truly being attentive to Him.  Fear of the unknown, attachment to possessions, and the busyness we often fill our lives with can so easily prevent us from seeing God.  Yet, like the bear, He is present to us if only we allow ourselves to approach Him.           

The retreat was a time to strip ourselves of the obstructions, and through the reflections, meditations, and prayers, we were able to come to that sense of not just knowing God is present in our lives, but truly seeing His presence in our lives. 

This spiritual awareness that we so often come to recognize during a retreat can frequently taper away.  Every time I go on a retreat I leave with the conviction that I will maintain the spirituality that I reconnected with during the course of the retreat, but all too often the “retreat high” subsides and so does my recommitment to a heightened prayer life.

The Metanoia retreat not only provided many prayer materials and reflections for our use after the retreat, but also ended with a discussion of becoming part of “Manthano” (Greek for to increase one’s knowledge or to be informed).

The idea is that every twelve weeks past retreat participants will gather to come together in prayer and fellowship before welcoming the current retreat participants to the diocese’s Manthano group.   This will allow us to stay strongly connected with our young adult faith community and our commitment to truly live our faith. 

I found the Metanoia retreat experience incredibly inspiring and renewing. I strongly encourage all young adults to seriously consider attending a Metanoia retreat and renew your commitment to our call to discipleship.

Shown at the Metanoia Dinner Experience at Wadhams Hall Seminary in Ogdensburg are, from left, Jamie Burns, Carmel Rastley, Jen Campbell, Kelly Donnelly, Father Al Hauser and Samantha Morgan.


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