Seventeen youths and four adults from the Diocese of Davenport spent June 17-21 at the University of Notre Dame for a series of five-day conferences designed to help high school students recognize and respond to God’s call. Notre Dame Vision includes large-group experiences, reflective small-group time, liturgies, music, speakers and mentorship from Notre Dame undergraduates. Here are excerpts from reflections that some students and a youth minister from the diocese shared about their experience. More youths from southeast Iowa are attending ND Vision this week.
The whole event is spiritually energizing and motivational. Thanks to this trip, I can say that with the help of the speakers and my Mentors in Faith, I have discovered things about myself that are gifts from God. The experience also left me ready to go out and change the world with my gifts.
Emma Davis, Oxford
The speakers were amazing and helped us let go of all our burdens and become closer to God. The small groups were intimate and you could talk to them about anything. The games were great and I have never felt more alive or closer to God in my life!
Shanlie Phillips, Oxford
I can try to stay more positive at home and be a leader for others in my community.
Stephanie Coultre-Davis and Mike Patin spoke to me to push all my labels away…. He told me to be the person God wants me to be, and not what I want to be.
The Mentors in Faith asked really mind-boggling questions that made you dig deep into yourself. You meet all kinds of people whom you can trust and share personal thoughts with.
Sierra Petersen, DeWitt
I found I can open up more than I thought I could — and what I think people think of me isn’t actually what they think.
You get as much out of Vision as you put into it. If you are willing to be open-minded, go to Vision; it will change your life.
Jasmin Tone, Mount Pleasant
The speakers helped strengthen my relationship with God as they discussed topics I struggle with. Through activities and talks, the small groups helped me reflect on the messages the speakers conveyed. I also became friends with people from across the country.
Sarah Frischmeyer, Grinnell
I understand the Bible better now. Vision is a very spiritual adventure. You can learn about yourself, friends and God. I recommend it to anyone who wants to connect more with God.
Hollie Schlessemann, Oxford
I learned that I am a good leader and I can inspire others. You become more than a group; you become a family.
Keaton Vance, Oxford
I would call it uplifting, inspirational and motivational. What on the outside would appear to be a religious college life preview, was in fact a mind-blowing retreat, with the promise of bountiful self-exploration and recognition of your own skills.
Logan Davis, Oxford
Notre Dame Vision was a great learning experience. The mentors were fun and crazy. I think the best part was listening to the talks and seeing if you could connect to their stories, and talking about it with people.
Allison Still, Oxford
I had a great small group; there were awesome speakers. I liked being able to open up to others and hear their stories. The speakers were very funny and had their serious parts, too.
Mckenzie Musser, Oxford
The catechesis the youths and adults received was top notch on so many levels! The guest speakers were the elite of youth ministry, which most groups cannot afford to have at their local parishes.
The different prayer experiences were spiritually sound and grounded to help you learn and grow in relationship with God. The witness talks were moving in a way that made you able to see your God in a new light!
I sent 11 youths and two adults to this retreat for the very first time, and all want to return and grow even deeper in their love and understanding of our God!
Michelle Montgomery, youth minister at St. Mary, Oxford and St. Thomas More, Coralville