SAN DIEGO — Christine Kubeck was still new to the San Diego area when she attended the annual Diocesan Young Adult Retreat for the first time.
She left the 2019 retreat feeling “hopeful” and “ready to apply my weekend reflections and readjust areas of my life towards my faith.”
“I couldn’t recommend (this retreat) enough,” she said. “It creates a great getaway to refocus on faith, reflect, have some fun, and meet new friends.”
The popular event was canceled last year, one of many casualties of the COVID-19 pandemic. But about 150 young adult Catholics, ages 18 to 39, are expected to attend this year’s retreat, which will be held from Sept. 17 to 19 at Whispering Winds Catholic Camp and Conference Center in Julian.
“This year, more than ever,” said Kubeck, “I see so many young people at our parishes seeking to reconnect or find a faith-based community.”
Patrick Rivera, director of the diocesan Office for Young Adult Ministry, said the annual retreat fosters a “strong sense of community” among its young adult participants.
“On the last day, when we leave, that last Mass is bittersweet as much as it is powerful,” said Rivera, who reflected on the poignancy of being in a room filled with young adults singing praise-and-worship songs before the Blessed Sacrament.
By the time of the closing Mass, participants have already packed their belongings and loaded their cars for their return trip, he said. Looking around the room, it’s not hard to see “how people have grown and bonded with each other.”
The retreat will begin with check-in from 6:30 to 7:30 on Friday evening and end on Sunday at noon. The schedule includes talks by Catholic speaker Mari Pablo of Ascension Presents and Father Michael O’Loughlin of the “Catholic Stuff You Should Know” podcast. There will also be two Masses; Morning Prayer and Night Prayer; opportunities for Eucharistic adoration, confession, and spiritual direction; designated times for small group discussion, personal reflection and social activities like a bonfire; and free time that can be used for hiking, swimming, zip-lining or playing Ultimate Frisbee.
Departing from longstanding tradition, this year’s retreat will not be dividing participants by sex on the second day to hear a gender-specific talk.
“I think it ran its course,” Pamela Poe, associate director of the Office for Young Adult Ministry, said of the men’s and women’s talks that had been retreat staples.
In place of attending either the men’s or women’s talk, participants of both sexes will be free to choose from among breakout sessions on topics connected with the themes of discipleship, service and evangelization.
In another departure from previous years, a religious sister as well as a priest will be available for spiritual direction.
Nathan Montemayor of St. Michael Parish in San Diego has “been to a few of these” diocesan retreats over the years.
In addition to the insights provided by the speakers and the sacramental and liturgical celebrations held during the retreat, Montemayor said he has enjoyed “the overall fellowship” and “just being able to meet new people, to share our faith together, and to inspire each other in the small groups.”
“I did form some relationships … through this retreat,” he said, “so I’m very thankful for that.”
Poe has a similar story. In 2011, six years before she joined the diocesan staff, she served as a volunteer member of the retreat team and facilitated one of the small groups. A decade later, she still counts several members of that group among her good friends. And it was at the same retreat that she met her future husband.
The cost to attend the Diocesan Young Adult Retreat is $175 per person. Registration and payment is required by noon on Tuesday, Sept. 7.