April 1, 2022 | Youth
Fr. Stephen Van Lal Than

The Lazarus Retreat on Feb. 18-20, 2022, was joined by 40 first-time participants from around the Diocese of Owensboro. COURTESY OF CHARLIE HARDESTY

The Lazarus Retreat #4: An opportunity for encounter, witness and servant leadership


Our fourth experience of the Lazarus Retreat was held at Gasper River Catholic Youth Camp and Retreat Center on Feb. 18-20, 2022. We were joined by 40 first-time participants from across the diocese including youth from St. Jerome in Fancy Farm, St. Francis de Sales and St. John the Evangelist in Paducah, Immaculate Conception in Earlington, Sts. Peter and Paul in Hopkinsville, St. Sebastian in Calhoun, St. Stephen Cathedral and Sts. Joseph and Paul in Owensboro, St. Mary in Franklin, St. Francis of Assisi in Guthrie, and St. Joseph in Bowling Green. In addition, there were five youth serving on the Agape Team from St. Jerome in Fancy Farm, Our Lady of Lourdes in Owensboro, and St. Stephen Cathedral in Owensboro. This retreat experience offered a special moment in our diocesan youth efforts as we were joined by several participants and adults from our Hispanic and Latino communities.

Several young women smile while participating in the Lazarus Retreat at Gasper River Catholic Youth Camp and Retreat Center, which took place 18-20, 2022. COURTESY OF CHARLIE HARDESTY

The Lazarus Retreat utilizes the story of the raising of Lazarus (John 11: 1- 46). While on retreat, the youth are invited to explore the things in life that keep them bound up, entombed, and unable to hear the voice of Jesus calling them to life. The goal of the retreat is inviting the young people into the good news of Jesus Christ; helping them abandon the things that lead to death and respond to Jesus calling them to new life. The Agape Team, which was added in 2020, is an opportunity for youth who have been through the retreat to return and be in service to the retreat while also exploring what it means to have a servant’s heart.

Fr. Daniel Dillard, the spiritual director of the retreat, said, “It is a chance to really go in-depth breaking open one passage and helping the youth of the diocese see in a very concrete way how scripture is still relevant to them today. I have seen the fruits that this has borne in the lives of our youth.”

Karina Romero, youth minister at St. Stephen Cathedral, shared that “as a small group leader, I was able to see a beautiful transformation in my group of girls. Seeing them truly embrace dying to themselves and living in Christ brought them so much joy and life.”

Ariel Molina, a youth participant from St. Mary in Franklin, shared that “my favorite part was praying for and with my small group.”

Kaylee Hutchison, a youth from Our Lady of Lourdes in Owensboro, was a part of the Agape Team.  She shared: “For me being on the Agape Team was amazing. I was able to grow deeper into my faith while trying to serve others.”

We are very thankful for the adults involved in the Lazarus Retreat who gave talks, served as small group leaders, and served with the Agape Team. We are hopeful to have two retreats during the next school year, one in the fall and one in February. Both will be offered at Gasper River. Information about signing up will be made available this summer. All high school youth from across the diocese are invited to attend, but there is only space for 40 total youth participants for each retreat.

Charlie Hardesty is the director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry for the Diocese of Owensboro. Learn more at owensborodiocese.org/youth-ministry.

Originally printed in the April 202 issue of The Western Kentucky Catholic.

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