By David Cooley.
For 15 years young people in the Diocese of Covington have been able to discover or rediscover their zeal for the Catholic faith at an annual three-day retreat centered on the Eucharist. As the diocese enters a new era, this retreat, formerly called YOUTH 2000, is being rebranded and will be known this year as SUMMIT21. While there will be some differences, one thing will certainly remain the same —participants can expect a unique opportunity to encounter Jesus Christ in a powerful way in the Eucharist.
SUMMIT21 will be held this year Oct. 8–10 at Notre Dame Academy. The diocesan-wide retreat will include daily Mass, the rosary, confession, Eucharistic adoration and dynamic catechesis presented by the Franciscan Friars and Sisters of the Renewal and diocesan clergy and lay adults. There will also be live music, lay testimonials as well as great food, snacks and social time.
The event runs on Friday, 6:30–10:30 p.m.; Saturday 9 a.m.–10 p.m.; and Sunday 8:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m. On Saturday participants can ask questions to a select panel of clergy and laity. The panelists come well prepared to explain Church teaching on matters large and small — especially on tough issues of faith and morals — with clarity, charity and wit.
Young people growing up in today’s world have a lot to deal with. If you are someone like me, who grew up without the internet, social media, cell phones, on-demand programing, a 24-hour news cycle and a culture hostile to traditional values, it’s hard for us to imagine.
All of this has certainly taken its toll on all of us, but especially our youth. Studies show that, by all accounts, the mental health of youth in the United States (and globally) is worsening. The modern world, with its secular, materialistic landscape is not offering people much in the way of meaning, direction and purpose. Ours is a world of broken dreams, disorder and division. There is not much out there that one can hold onto consistently. More than anything else there is a great hunger for community, beauty and truth.
It is important for all people to be able to center themselves and stay grounded in what really matters. As Catholics, we know that we can only find peace if our lives are centered on Jesus Christ. We find purpose and meaning only when we make of gift of ourselves in service to the Church and to others.
Why SUMMIT21? A summit is the highest point of a hill or mountain, the highest peak you can reach. Providentially, it is also a gathering, a meeting of important people coming together for a particular cause. This retreat, because it is a gathering of God’s people and centered on the Eucharist, can be defined as both. Add the year — 2021 — and you have the name.
The Church tells us that the Eucharist is the “source and summit of Christian life.” This means that, first, our Christian life — the good, the true and the beautiful — flows from the Eucharist. And second, the Eucharist is the summit or high-point to which all of our actions should ultimately be directed. In the Blessed Sacrament Christ is truly Emmanuel — “God with us” — giving us the grace we need to reach that peak we are destined for.
Just as the first disciples were called to come down from the mountain and go out to be salt of the earth and light for the world. Those who meet Christ in the Eucharist — those who attend SUMMIT21 — are also called to mission: to go out, spread the good news and bring healing to those in need. The Eucharist is both the source of our strength and the summit of our desires. Our Christian spirituality is a two-way street. It leads us from the Eucharist as a starting point out into the world of daily life and it eventually takes us back home to the Eucharist after our sojourn in the world.
Regarding the Eucharist, St. Pope Paul VI once wrote, “He is in the midst of us day and night; he dwells in us with the fullness of grace and truth. He raises the level of morals, fosters virtue, comforts the sorrowful, strengthens the weak and stirs up all those who draw near to him to imitate him, so that they may learn from his example to be meek and humble of heart, and to seek not their own interests but those of God.”
Come discover what SUMMIT21 is all about. Register Here.
David Cooley is co-director and office manager of the Office of Catechesis and Evangelization.