By PAUL A. BARRA
SEABROOK ISLAND — The first annual diocesan retreat for directors of religious education and youth ministers was held at Camp St. Christopher on May 19-21. Called “Renew and Rejoice,” it was such a success that a retreat is going to be de rigueur for all such ministers.
“Basically, a renewal is something that every parish minister needs. They get physically tired and spiritually drained,” said Paul Schroeder, director of evangelization, initiation and catechesis for the Diocese of Charleston. “An annual retreat is going to be required for certification for DREs.”
The retreat one selects needn’t be the diocesan one, according to Schroeder, but he has no difficulty in recommending it. Both he and Jerry White, diocesan director of the Youth and Young Adults Ministry Office who co-sponsored the retreat on the Seabrook Island beach, said that Renew and Rejoice was centered on prayer but that some of the great moments occurred in between prayers.
“I loved the times when a group of ministers were just sitting around laughing, telling stories about what happened during the year and sharing spiritual moments,” Schroeder said.
White agreed: “It was a time to look back at what God has done in their lives, time to take a breath.”
The retreat was hosted by Kathleen Hendricks, a director of religious education from the Diocese of Colorado Springs. Both diocesan directors said that she was “fabulous.” The deanery coordinators from the Midlands and Piedmont deaneries contracted with Hendricks to lead their catechist formation day at the beginning of the next school year.
Msgr. E. Christopher Lathem, dean of the Coastal Deanery, celebrated Mass for the retreatants on Thursday, and Hendricks presented reflections or small group sharing at certain times, but schedules were flexible and no attendance was required at anything. The concept was open-ended, with no expectation that a minister would give up her walk on the beach if that was what she wanted at the time. Some of the 14 ministers who attended brought along their spouses; some even had children with them. It all added to the relaxed, family atmosphere that permeated the beach retreat.
“The setting and pace (of the retreat) were conducive to relaxation and spiritual rebuilding,” White said. “The youth ministers loved it and are already talking about next year.”
Camp St. Christopher, owned and operated by the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina, was a popular choice for the annual retreat, so the one scheduled for next year will be held from May 31 to June 2 at the same place.