NOTE: This reflection was previously published on the Newman Theological College website (as shared by the Archdiocese of Edmonton) and is used with permission.
By Eve Bussière, Catholic Culture & Vocations Intern
In the second week of August, we four interns –Ruth, Marc, Samuel, and I – spent the week at the St. Thérèse Institute in Bruno, SK, for the Face-to-Face Ministries’ summer camp called Ignite.
Ignite is a Catholic week-long camp for high school students, offering an opportunity for teens who desire to grow in holiness, to expand their Catholic community, and to meet other teens like them who also have a desire to grow closer to Christ and to live a virtuous life. The theme at Ignite this year was “Called by Name”. The focus of the week was on the universal call of holiness, stressing that we are all made by God and for God, and that we are all called to sainthood since our ultimate goal is to be with God in Heaven.
That week at Ignite, there were countless opportunities to grow closer to Christ. Igniters (campers) quickly became friends as they played games, shared meals, listened to the talks and worshiped together at Mass and Eucharistic Adoration.
Over the course of the week, through the reception of the Sacraments, Adoration, talks and small group discussions, Igniters were being equipped to go back to their lives witnessing to the faith and deepening their personal relationship with Jesus. The talks that were given that week challenged Igniters to ask themselves “How is my relationship with Jesus?” and “How do I respond to Jesus’ call to holiness?” and “What does Jesus want me to do with my life?”
I definitely saw how daily Mass, daily Adoration and the Sacrament of Reconciliation transformed the hearts of the teens. During those holy moments, the youth encountered God, as a gracious and loving God who desires a personal relationship with each one of them. Praying together before meals, during Mass and Adoration, and during small groups were powerful ways to witness and promote a Catholic lifestyle for those teens.
Both Ruth and I had were the small group leaders for the oldest group of high school girls. During small group discussions, they shared insightful thoughts and personal reflections. The girls quickly became friends as they shared their faith, thoughts, joys and struggles with the group. It was a privilege for me to accompany my small group over the week, to see them desire holiness more, and to share some of my thoughts and advice with them. As they return to their regular lives, I continue to pray for them that they may have the strength and the joy to follow God’s will.
The Scripture passage that stuck with me from the week was: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are mine” from Isaiah 43:1. It perfectly encapsulates the Catholic identity and mission. As Catholics, we are God’s beloved children and we are called to be his apostles, to proclaim the Good News and to live an exemplary life of virtue.
That week at Ignite, the teens’ Catholic identity was affirmed and within their hearts a fire was kindled ready to stir up a greater zeal to love and serve God. It is evident that the youth who arrived at the beginning of the week left at the end of the week with a renewed sense of their mission to become saints, with a deeper desire to follow Christ, and with a heart on fire for love of God.