By Lindsay Steele
The Catholic Messenger
Several parishes from the Diocese of Davenport sent groups to Notre Dame Vision this summer in Indiana. Notre Dame Vision is a five-day experience on the Notre Dame campus designed to help participants discover and renew God’s call in their lives. Programming is available for high school youths and adult catechists who work with youths and young adults. Notre Dame offers four sessions each summer.
“Notre Dame Vision helps the youth see the gifts they have, how they are to use them and how we are all called to become saints and live out that call through our gifts to give glory to God,” said Michelle Montgomery, director of youth ministry for St. Thomas More Parish in Coralville. The nine youths from the parish received affirmation from the mentors, who are Notre Dame college students, as well as their designated small groups.
“It is a solid program that provides opportunities for youth to take their faith into their own hands,” said Julia Jones, youth minister for St. Ann Parish in Long Grove. Nearly 30 youths from the parish signed up for Notre Dame Vision this year. “I don’t even have to speak when I advertise it because past participants do all that work for me …. participants are constantly referencing things that they learned or experienced at Notre Dame Vision.”
Ashley Sheehan, a member of the Coralville parish, learned that you can always be more involved in the Catholic Church. “The week at Notre Dame helped me to really get focused back on maintaining and improving my relationship with God.” She also learned that her gifts of confidence and hospitality can be used to evangelize. “I am planning to help others get back into their faith by recommending more of my friends and family to participate in church activities.”
“Notre Dame Vision was very eye opening because of how much I learned about myself,” said Levi Riedesel, a member of St. Joseph Parish in DeWitt. He appreciated the conference’s energy and positivity. “I learned that I can do so much just listening to someone’s story and understanding their struggles and joys. I learned that no matter the struggle, God will always be there.”
When youths participate in daytime programming, adults participate in a separate track. “The adult track is always top notch” with “outstanding instructors,” said Montgomery. This year’s theme for the adult track was the prodigal son. Speakers included Mike Patin, who spoke at the Diocese of Davenport’s Vision 20/20 Convocation in June.
Crystal DeNeve accompanied a group from St. Mary Parish in Grinnell. Coincidentally, they attended the same week as groups from Coralville and DeWitt. She observed that the youths had a great time getting to know people from around the country and in their home diocese. “I loved seeing the young people grow in their faith with other young people from around the country … and share their faith with other young people. It was also great attending with others from our diocese and seeing those bonds and relationships form.”
DeNeve said she enjoyed networking with other ministers and gained ideas from watching the Notre Dame Vision team work with the youths.
Beau Manatt, a member of the DeWitt parish, participated in Notre Dame Vision for the third year. “I have grown not only as an individual but as a child of God. The whole Vision experience made me feel God’s love for me. I was able to see his love in the people I met. The small groups I participated with allowed me to open myself up more, and learn about other people’s daily life and their faith. All of it showed me what kind of Christian I want to live as. After Vision I feel more inspired to continue strengthening my relationship with the Lord through prayer, my friends, family and my church. I highly recommend ND Vision to anyone who wants a stronger relationship with God.”