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Young Adult Conference ‘Changed My Life’

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MOVING EXPERIENCE: The “Ever Ancient, Ever New” retreat for young adult Catholics will again include a Eucharistic procession on the grounds of the Christ Cathedral Campus in Garden Grove. (Photo courtesy of Brilema Perez.)

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SAN DIEGO — Viviana Morales attended “Ever Ancient, Ever New: A SoCal Young Adult Eucharistic Revival” last year, among the more than 300 young adults who did so.

“This two-day retreat … changed my life,” said the 21-year-old Morales, who serves as the youth and young adult coordinator at St. Michael’s Parish in Poway.

Co-sponsored by the young adult ministry offices of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and the dioceses of Orange, San Bernardino and San Diego, “Ever Ancient, Ever New” is returning for a second year. It will be held July 27 to 28, again at the Christ Cathedral Campus in Garden Grove.

Morales, who served on the social media team that helped to promote last year’s event, encourages her fellow young adults not to pass up this transformative experience.

“I tell everyone that … this is the place to be,” she said.

The theme for this year’s “Ever Ancient, Ever New” will be “This Is My Body.” That theme is undergirded by three “pillars”: “Fed,” “Healed,” and “Made New.”

The schedule includes three keynote talks, two Masses, breakout sessions, Eucharistic adoration, and opportunities to receive the sacraments of reconciliation and the anointing of the sick.

“The keynotes will be focused on how we are fed, healed and made new (by the Eucharist),” said Brilema Perez, an associate director of the Diocese of San Diego’s Office for Youth and Young Adult Ministry. “The breakout sessions will focus on how we are called to feed others through our connection to Christ, to heal others, and to make the world new through who we are as part of the Mystical Body of Christ.”

Maricruz Flores, the office’s director, noted that “Ever Ancient, Ever New” is a response to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ three-year National Eucharistic Revival, which is set to conclude with a National Eucharistic Congress on July 17 to 21 in Indianapolis.

She said that the Southern California event is tailored to Catholics between the ages of 18 and 39 and is presented “in the language of young adults.”

Evelyn Beale, the office’s other associate director, acknowledged that organizers have referred to “Ever Ancient, Ever New” as a “conference,” but that term doesn’t do justice to an event that also has elements of a “revival” and a “retreat.”

“It’s kind of the best of all of those,” she said. “It’s a really unique type of event that’s meant to feed our young adults spiritually.”

Jazmyn Cabrera, 24, said that she “didn’t know what to expect” when she attended last year, but that it turned out to be “an empowering experience.”

“It was beautiful to see so many young people rejoice in the Eucharist and God’s infinite love,” said Cabrera, who coordinates youth and young adult ministry at Mission San Luis Rey Parish in Oceanside.

She looks forward to attending this year’s event and once again finding herself “surrounded by hundreds of young adults giving glory to Christ’s true presence in the Eucharist.”

For both Cabrera and Morales, highlights of “Ever Ancient, Ever New” included the Eucharistic procession that preceded a period of Eucharistic adoration.

Morales said that, despite having attended Catholic schools, from preschool through high school, and being active in the Newman Center at her college, she had “never in a million years” taken part in such a procession, which she found “very beautiful.”

In addition to deepening their faith, participants at last year’s event also enjoyed fellowship with peers from other dioceses.

Morales said that it was “such a blast” getting to meet other young adults, not only from the Diocese of San Diego, but “so many people from different walks of life from the different dioceses.”

She credited “Ever Ancient, Ever New” as the event “where I met some of my best friends that I talk to every day.” She said that, if she hadn’t attended last year, she wouldn’t have “these Christ-like friendships” today.

Perez shared that, even though the event is a collaborative effort among four Southern California (arch)dioceses, it has sparked interest among non-Californians as well.

“We had young adults coming out from Yuma (last year), all the way from Arizona,” she said, “and there’s already a group registered from (there) again this year.”

What message does Cabrera have for young adults contemplating attending for the first time?

“I would say, ‘Go, go, go!’ Whether you sign up with a group or individually, this was a beautiful chance to just let go, reset, and rest in God’s love,” she said. “Everyone was so welcoming, and it was a great time.”

For more information or to register ($80 per person), visit socalrevival.org.

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