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Bensonhurst Youth go to Notre Dame for the Summer
For the first time youth from Brooklyn join hundreds of youth in a Leadership program in South bend, Indiana. The Bensonhurst Cluster of Youth Ministry sponsored 2 youth and 2 adults to travel for this week long program in mid July, read below about of the experience of one of the youth who made the journey and what he learned.
ND Vision 2008- Joseph Hadzovic 8/14/93 Xaverian High School
ND Vision (Notre Dame University-Vision) is a program for high-school students around the country. The vision is a retreat that takes place on the college campus of Notre Dame in South Ben, Indiana. There I (and students form all around the country from states like California, Texas, Nebraska, etc.) stayed on the campus for five days; Monday to Friday. The train ride was 18 hours with delays and we strongly advise anyone thinking about attending this not to take the train. My group consisting of four people arrived on the campus about 6 hours early before Vision began so we took a tour of the amazing campus. Then at 5 pm is when everything went underway.
I was lost on this campus since it was my first time on any college campus. I was about 10 minutes late, but nothing major groups were being assembled and I found my group quickly. My two mentors and seven other students in my group were the people I would be seeing the most and eventually connect with after only 5 days. We ate dinner afterward played some games and then had our first of ten sessions. These sessions involved self examination of our lives and what we were going to do with it. The very first was the call to discipleship: What does Jesus want you to do? Mentors who are college students at Notre Dame speak before us high school students and talk about their personal lives and the roads they have traveled. Each mentor who spoke related to the topic at hand and had about three mentors speak at each session. Also adult and motivational speakers spoke before us, but each speaker had a common theme. That theme was hearing God's call to discipleship. After the very short Monday everyone went back to the dorms they were assigned to on the campus. Notre Dame was 250 high school students home for 5 days.
Every morning began with prayer in many humorous ways but always ended in an Our Father, with everyone holding hands. Then speakers would talk and we would all listen and apply what they said to our lives. Then after each session we would meet outside with small groups and talk about the topic, also ask questions. This involved intense thinking, examining and courage to talk about your life to people you barley knew. You knew their names and where they were from and that's it. However, that didn't stop me and a couple others. Our mentors usually led us through guided meditation and would always allow people to talk and no one would argue. You were never judged and could say how you feel, which into today's society is hard to do. We even ate with our small groups. One thing about ND Vision is that no one is left out everyone is a community especially in your small groups. Everyone is just so welcoming and nice which some people may not be use to and the Vision is such an astounding example of welcoming and kindness with humor the whole way.
More topics were brought up and more things were talked about such as, suffering, talents, sacraments and love. A sacrament that you had the choice of receiving was Reconciliation, which took place in the Basilica. The Basilica is the biggest and prettiest church I have ever been in. The first time I walked in remember not saying a word. No one did it seem to have this tone so holy that it felt rude to even whisper. Reconciliation was such a relief for many people and a time to figure out what we do wrong in our own lives. There were over 15 priests ready to forgive people through power of God and an experience that was worth 18 hours. The very last topic was talents that took everything we had learned throughout the whole week so far and asked us how were we when we left to our homes, what were we going to do for God's call by using our talents. This personally was the greatest thing I learned from ND Vision and it changed my life. I realized what I wanted to do and it was to be a speaker just like Jesus or Martin Luther King Jr. I realized I wanted to with my words to help young people like me battle life's challenges and bring them closer to God. That's why I'm writing this, so adults and teens can think about what they want to do with their lives, what god wants them to do. ND Vision did this and much for me and really has impacted me in the way I think and act. Would I recommend ND Vision? Yes I would without a doubt and to explain what happens in better words is difficult because you would need to experience it yourself.
Session after session went by and the laughs never ended the fun never stopped. It seemed such a great place to be, but like most great things they have to end at some point. My five day life changing vacation was my highlight of the summer. Although it was early in the summer, (July 14th-18th was when I attended) it was still the best thing this summer. I would say ND vision will teach you a lot about yourself that u don't know and lead you to where you want to go in life and bring you back to or closer to God. Either way it is something worth considering and is something to start planning early. My youth minister already received a letter about if he would be attending and it hasn't even been a week. I would recommend fundraisers, because life changing isn't cheap or at least the food you eat during the time isn't. Was ND vision worth the 18 hours back forth? Every second on that retreat was worth it. The staff, the mentors, the teens, the memories, the speakers and there all so great so what are you waiting for. You have been handed the invitation, now will you take the next step?
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