Weekend Retreat Leads Young Women Closer to Christ

As she prepares to enter high school later this summer, 14-year-old Fiona of Holy Spirit Catholic Church in Mims is well aware of the challenges and pressure teens face in today’s world. Still, she is confident that God will always be at her side to guide her on her journey to adulthood. 

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Pope Francis has declared A Year of Consecrated Life beginning November 2014.  Mark your calendars for January 31, 11:00 a.m. at the Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary, Queen of the Universe to participate in a special Mass for Consecrated Life where all religious women and men serving in the Diocese of Orlando are invited to join Bishop John Noonan for this celebration. 

As she prepares to enter high school later this summer, 14-year-old Fiona of Holy Spirit Catholic Church in Mims is well aware of the challenges and pressure teens face in today’s world. Still, she is confident that God will always be at her side to guide her on her journey to adulthood. 

“In this time era, it is really hard to be a girl my age and make the right decisions,” Fiona said, “so I need to be stronger in my faith so I can make the right decisions and continue on my path toward heaven.”

Fiona was one of 14 high school girls who participated in the Diocese of Orlando Office of Vocation’s first FIAT days for girls.  The weekend event was held May 30-June 1 at San Pedro Spiritual Development Center in Winter Park.

“I wanted to be here because I wanted to grow closer to God,” Fiona said. “I am at a good place right now on my journey with God, my walk with God; however, I feel like I can always learn more. This is just one more leap for me towards heaven.”

Sister of St. Joseph Kathleen Power, assistant director of vocations for the diocese, said the retreat was designed to bring the girls closer to God through prayer, talks, small group discussions, praise and worship, and the celebration of Mass with Bishop John Noonan and Eucharistic Adoration. Sister Power and Salesian Sister Colleen Clair were available throughout the entire weekend to talk one-on-one with the girls about vocations, if they desired. 

“My hope for this retreat is that the girls go from here committed to the dream to growing as a strong Catholic woman with Mary as their model,” Sister Power said.

Fiona said while she has been inspired throughout the weekend, she has felt closest to God during Eucharistic Adoration.

“I have loved Adoration,” she said. “It is so spiritual. He enters your heart and fills you up with joy. It is like a little bit of heaven.”

She added that she has also formed a strong bond with the other girls at the camp. She considered the camp a judge-free zone where she has been able to share anything that was in her heart and on her mind.

“I feel like I have always known the girls even though I have only known them for one day,” Fiona said. “We have become so close and have shared so much. We trust each other. We are all so close to God and came here to get closer to him.”

Vanessa Carrillo, president of the University of Central Florida Campus Ministry and one of the five team leaders said working with the teenagers brought her closer to God as well.

“I have been inspired by these young women as I watched them encounter the Lord,” she said. “It has been a wonderful experience.”

Fiat is Latin for “Let there be.”  It refers to the Blessed Virgin Mary’s response to the angel who appeared to her and announced that she would be the mother of Jesus, the son of God. Mary submitted to God’s will and her response was: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38).

Pope Francis has declared A Year of Consecrated Life beginning November 2014.  Mark your calendars for January 31, 11:00 a.m., at the Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary, Queen of the Universe to participate in a special Mass for Consecrated Life where all religious women and men serving in the Diocese of Orlando will join Bishop John Noonan for this celebration.