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Young adults invited to live ‘deep’ encounter


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JULIAN — About 140 Catholics ages 18 to 39 are expected to attend the annual Diocesan Young Adult Retreat, to be held Sept. 15 to 17 at Whispering Winds Catholic Camp and Conference Center.

Among them will be Renzo Elias, 29, and his wife, Fabia.

The couple had a life-changing experience at last year’s retreat, during Saturday night’s Eucharistic adoration.

“Before that night,” he said, “I always believed the Eucharist was (only) a symbol … but, that night, my wife and I felt His presence while we were kneeling during adoration and couldn’t hold back the tears from running down our faces.”

He added, “There was a sort of warmth and calming that radiated from the monstrance; it’s hard to find the right words to describe it. It was truly such a beautiful and vulnerable experience.”

Since then, he’s become a regular participant in Eucharistic adoration, having come to believe that “it is there where Jesus is waiting for us to spend time with Him.”

The theme of this year’s retreat is “Deep Calls to Deep,” which is taken from Psalm 42.

Brilema Perez, associate director of the diocesan Office for Youth and Young Adult Ministry, said that psalm speaks to the experience of one who has known the love of God, is going through “a period of desolation” and is “crying out for help,” yet remains confident in God.

She said that retreat organizers recognize that many young adults are experiencing “burnout” as they struggle to balance faith, work and relationships. This year’s keynote speakers, Father Tim Grumbach and Laurie Medina, were selected with that in mind.

Perez said that Father Grumbach, a priest of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles who serves as chaplain and retreat director at Bishop Alemany High School in Mission Hills, Calif., will focus on the spiritual side. Medina, a young adult from St. Brigid Parish who is completing her studies to become a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, will bring mental health into the equation.

Along with keynotes and breakout sessions, the retreat schedule will include two Masses, Eucharistic adoration, silent reflection, small-group discussion, and more.

Praise-and-worship music will be provided by Nomadic Worship, a band based out of Orange County that ministers to young adult communities throughout Southern California.

Evelyn Beale, associate director of the Office for Youth and Young Adult Ministry, said she hopes that participants will come back from the retreat “feeling refreshed, and inspired, and optimistic” and “more equipped to handle (it) when life throws them curveballs.”

Maricruz Flores, the office’s director, expressed hope that her fellow introverts might “find a community” through their participation in this year’s retreat.

“That’s what I found,” said Flores, who attended as a participant two years ago. “I found community, I found new friends, I found people that I could go to Mass with and not feel alone in those moments of … desolation.”

Flores’ experience is one that is shared by other past participants.

María Fernanda Marmolejo Rubio, 24, has attended twice and is returning for her third year.

“I went into the retreat in 2021 not knowing anybody, but I felt a strong call to go … and it was one of the best decisions ever,” she said, adding that she met her boyfriend as well as “wonderful people that I know will be in my life for a long, long time.”

“Being able to pray with like-minded peers is great,” shared 30-year-old Brandon Hamilton, who will be attending for a fifth time this year.

When he first dipped his feet into the local young adult scene in 2018, he said, he “did not know anybody” and identified as “a loner.”

“Now, I have many friends within the Catholic young adult community and always see familiar faces every time there is a young adult event,” said Hamilton, who is excited to serve as a young adult leader this time around.

What is Elias most looking forward to at the upcoming retreat?

“I hope I will fall even more in love with Jesus,” he said. “These sorts of retreats take you away from the noise of the world and help put into perspective what is truly important, and that is our relationship with the Lord. I hope I will learn how to prioritize Him even more in my daily life.”

For information or to register, visit

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