By Lindsay Steele
The Catholic Messenger
Diocesan teens went on a quest for love earlier this year, but not of the romantic type. The love they quested for was a love of self, others and God.
At two Quest weekends, one at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish-Bettendorf and one in St. James Parish-St. Paul, Catholic eighth and ninth-graders had an opportunity to focus on these concepts through a series of witness talks and character-building activities.
“We wanted them to walk out more confident in who God wants them to be, thinking about how to love people they don’t like, how to appropriately love their friends, and to love God,” said Quest co-coordinator Sara Scogland, youth and young adult minister of the Bettendorf parish.
A team of adults, young adults and college and high school-age students led the talks and activities. “Quest reached across the diocese to find people with the gifts and talents to create a weekend for the youths,” said co-coordinator Mike Linnenbrink, youth minister of parishes in West Point, Houghton, St. Paul, Fort Madison and Farmington.
To help build trust between leaders and youths, the leaders started off the Quest weekends by placing blindfolds on the teens and leading them in a line through an obstacle course. Scogland believes that building trust is essential in helping the youths feel more comfortable opening up during introspective retreats.
During the first day of Quest, leaders spoke about different aspects of love, most of which were followed by hands-on activity. The second day began with a morning prayer, followed by bread making. Scogland said the youths were encouraged to share the loaf with someone once they left Quest — someone whom God had put on their hearts. The retreat ended with Mass and final talks about God’s love and how the students could take home the Quest experience and grow from it. Scogland said leaders asked the youths to ponder, “Where do you go after this weekend? Who am I now as opposed to Friday? … Start where you are and keep looking at that every day.”
Robert Wamer, youth minister of St. Alphonsus Parish-Mt. Pleasant, served as a team leader at the St. Paul event and was encouraged by what he saw in the youths. “It always amazes me how much the adult leaders learn from the youths at these type of events,” he said. “They bring a different perspective to the table concerning what we are discussing,” he noted. “Sometimes in their youthful enthusiasm they remind us of the true meaning behind a subject (like service, justice, prayer life) that we in our adulthood have become jaded or cynical about without realizing it. Things become rote for adults sometimes and youths can bring us around to a new, often more enlightened perspective. Youths are often wiser than we give them credit for.”
He was also pleased by the attendance at both events. Twenty-five youths attended the retreat in Bettendorf and 47 attended the retreat in St. Paul. “I believe that all the youths were fully engaged and that the attendance numbers foretell a strong future for Quest, Core and Tech retreats in the diocese.”
Youth Matt Hellige, a member of Holy Family Parish-Fort Madison, lauded the staff for their leadership and welcoming attitudes. “The weekend was a great opportunity to work on my relationship with God. It was fun to meet other kids from the diocese.”
Father David Wilkening, pastor of Holy Family Parish-Fort Madison, helped out at the St. Paul Quest weekend and said he enjoyed the experience of watching the youths grow in faith. “The kids were great. Thanks to the Quest team for their work in making this available to our diocese.”