Conception Abbey
Katie Dinkel, Class of '14

This spring David Harley, Connolly Huddleston, Dr. Amanda Quantz, Dr. Natalya Riegg and I had the opportunity to take a retreat to Conception Abbey in Conception, Missouri.

At first I was a little hesitant because we took this retreat two days before we would be leading a Confirmation Retreat for twenty high school youth. However, only a few hours into the retreat I realized how much this experience was going to form us into more effective leaders in the Church.

Even though it was only a 24 hour retreat it brought a lot of time for prayer and reflection while immersing us in the Benedictine tradition.

We had the opportunity to pray with the monks and have focused conversations with some of them.

Brother Etienne shared with us his own discernment journey, while Brother Thomas let us in on some behind-the-scenes history of the monastery.

Through the liturgy and personal reflection I realized how important self-care is in being an effective minister.

This retreat allowed David, Connolly and me to really recognize our purpose and mission in working with the youth of the Church. We were able to pinpoint what God is calling us to in ministry and to challenge ourselves to leave our comfort zones in order to better live out not our own will, but God’s.

Los Angeles Religious Education Congress
Connolly Huddleston, Class of '14

The annual Los Angeles Religious Education Congress was a life-changing event. 

I was a little apprehensive at the thought of 40,000 people gathering in one place at the same time. However, I found that there was so much to learn from such a big group.

Growing up in the “Bible Belt” of Tennessee, I have seen just a small part of the wide spectrum that constitutes the global Catholic Church. At the Congress I found myself surrounded by people of my own faith who love the Church just as much as I do. 

I realized what Catholic community is all about.

It was amazing to take part in a Mass that was packed with all different types of people who participated in the same sacred experience. 

Being in the arena with 10,000 people was an experience I will never forget. I could feel God’s presence in all of those wonderful and joyful people. 

I learned to embrace my fear of crowds and fully immerse myself into what was going on at the Congress. The presentations were done very well and the speakers were full of knowledge on topics that I had never really considered. 

I found myself growing personally from the three days I was at the Congress. It opened my eyes to the reality of a truly universal Catholic Church that I had never encountered before. Experiencing the Congress with Dr. Quantz, as well as with our generous benefactors, Tony and Sharon Albers, was a great opportunity. I got to share my experience with these three mentors, each of whom brought something different to my attention and allowed me to benefit more fully from the Congress.