Over time and as my conversion continues, I have agreed to help LOTW in any way needed (chapel, shepherd, hospitality, Evangelizer, main) because I met Jesus on my first retreat. I met his mercy in confession, his voice with the evangelizers, his ears within the small groups, his hands with those who prepared food and his heart through those who adored. LOTW is the new evangelization that has not changed since Jesus' time: one witness sharing the good news with another. LOTW is fully Catholic (sacraments, adoration, catechetical, community), points souls to Jesus and to continued conversion which is the mission of the Church (i.e., our mission). Converted souls make a vibrant and dynamic parish. Converted souls is the solution to all of our worlds problems. My personal benefit is seeing how our good Lord converts others because we are all unique and each conversion is unique. These converted souls bring new life to parishes and joy to the priests who see lives transformed.
I was very much lit on fire for the Lord on my first retreat. I took to heart the whole LOTW experience, but most especially the call to be a Disciple and Apostle on Christ. I did understand we need to take what we received and do something with it. What better way than going out to other parishes and spreading Christs full message in the awesome way the LOTW retreat does? First of all, each time I do or lead a retreat I get so much out of it. All the different testimonies and witnesses let me see each topic from a little different perspective. I have a great time as well getting to know so many new people and have new experiences. It is such a joy to see people come on fire for the Lord and truly see the kindling of a fire grow in a parish. I have learned to trust in the Holy Spirit through this retreat and each time I say yes to Him and a new Parish He leads me into a great new adventure. Why would I say no to that? Of course my answer is yes to coming back... The biggest bonus for me beside growing closer to God is getting to know all these great people and priests that I would never have met unless I was doing these retreats. Not only do the retreats give me a chance to go deeper into my faith and relationship with the Lord, but it also makes the whole Catholic Church more of a close community. It reinforces the universality of our Church and makes the world a little smaller, more connected and friendlier. It has allowed me to meet people from different parts of our nation, make wonderful friendships and get treated to local delicious cuisine. It spiritually feeds me beyond words, I am truly blessed to be part of this ministry.
I believe in this process. I have been deeply moved over and over by watching the Holy Spirit work through others to come closer to Jesus. Being a Main Evangelizer allows me to see the faces of God in the children of God. As a Main, especially on away teams, I feel more like a true disciple -- going out and spreading God’s word. I’ve never had an 'aha' moment, but I truly love to see them happening in others. Every retreat is like a cleanse for my body, mind and soul. It brings such joy to my life. I have a relationship with God the father, Jesus his son and the Holy Spirit –- it’s tangible. There are inward changes that have become visible to my family, friends, colleagues, etc. and I love the me God has made. I pray more, I’m not afraid to share about God’s love more, and my life continues to be blessed.
In 2009 our pastor asked me and three others if we’d attend the Leadership retreat. None of us knew what the commitment would be at the time, we were blindly lead into it. After two retreats we felt ready to lead our first solo retreat and it went well. Although nervous, it was 'my turn' as Main Evangelizer. The materials helped immensely, but to be honest I felt I was being guided by a higher power (who could that have been?). The confidence to lead the retreat and the ability to answer questions on the spot by those on the retreat were not abilities I possessed, but I had those abilities during the retreat. Seeing the transformation of those who made the commitment to attend the retreat and being one of many on the team that helped with this transformation. One person in particular comes to mind. He is a tall, strong, older man that I knew but not very well. He came up to me and said the only reason he is attending the retreat was because of the direction of our pastor. Throughout the retreat he kept coming up with reasons to leave but that he would return. My response was to 'hold on' and that the retreat talks build upon each other, just stay and you’ll see. He held on and never left, and by 'circle time' this big man wept as he gave his testimony of what the retreat meant to him. The retreat educates, releases pains, and brings people to confession who have not been for years. It amazes me no matter the age of a person, they learn something about their faith. No matter how many retreats I’ve been involved in, I learn something new, whether from the materials or from the team or from a retreatant. I get to respond to our Lord’s message of 'to whom much is given, much will be required.' Our Lord has blessed me, all I have is because of his generosity and love, and LOTWEM is one way I can fulfill this demand from God our Father.
It a joy to form and pray with new LOTW Retreat teams whether you served with them before on another retreat or not. Their love and witness of Christ in their lives helps me deepen my faith. It's truly a spiritual adventure to meet new people all around the United States and be welcomed in to their parishes, from pastors to evangelization teams to parishioners, it is an honor to help create their very own Light of the World parish Retreat. I love to accompany the pastors, his staff and volunteers to help dispel the fear of stepping up and taking a leadership role at the Retreat. It is a miracle to see the transformation (conversion) of joy and love in the retreatants for Jesus -- and very rewarding to know I was a small part of that.
As a young man I was inspired by St. Paul and took his name for my confirmation name; I wanted to be a missionary spreading the Word / Kerygma like St. Paul. That has been my passion. Life has led me on various roads but this desire has always burned in my heart: to witness to Jesus and His power in my life and the world. When LOTW came to our parish I realized this was an opportunity to live that passion. In my daily life I try to witness my faith, but the LOTW weekend experience allows us to fully witness and speak to the power of Christ and the Gospel. As a Main Evangelizer we are called to witness, lead and assist another parish to begin the power of LOTW in their parish. My little imitation of St. Paul! I come back because I am blessed by the weekend, the faithful believers and the process. In our crazy lives we get running and in my work life I get pulled by the world. LOTW calls me back to Christ, His word, His love and the community of believers. Personally, LOTW and the weekends has guided and developed my spiritual growth. I have to ask myself where my time goes? Is it in the gym? Is it all work? Is it all play? Is it all family? Is it also strong in prayer and spiritual development and a life of faith? LOTW helps me keep this balance in proper perspective.
I had decided that I wanted to have more Jesus in my life. I attended a Light of the World retreat in 2013 and I was truly touched by the Spirit. I had a desire to help bring everyone I met closer to God. When I was younger, I was deathly afraid of public speaking, but, being the awesome God that He is, God had placed me in situations requiring public speaking for my job and I had recently overcome my fears. So, when I was offered the opportunity to become an evangelizer for my parish’s second LOTW retreat, I knew that I was cooperating with God’s plan by saying YES! At that retreat, our main asked if I would be interested in being a main for my parish, and maybe on the road. Seeing this as an opportunity to share Jesus with more people, I knew I had to say yes. Now that I have been a Road Main Evangelizer for a few years, I can honestly say that I love it. Meeting new people and witnessing their own experiences with the Holy Spirit during the retreats is one of the biggest blessings in my life. I see God’s love and I see what happens when others experience it! I get so much more than I give at these retreats. I always tell others that being an evangelizer is one of the greatest gifts there is. I have to spend time with Jesus, in His word, at Adoration, reading spiritual and religious books. All of this deepens my own relationship with Him and brings me even more joy in my own life. I am so blessed. I pray that everyone has the experiences that I have since starting on this journey. God is good!
The LOTW retreat was such a life changer for me, I feel anyway I can 'pay it forward,' take this incredible experience to others, well I'm compelled to do it! Perhaps, because of my teaching background, I feel very comfortable in the leadership position. I believe God blessed me with the ability and comfort to talk in front of audiences. All of these reasons keep me coming back. As long as I am physically and mentally able, I hope to be involved with the LOTW retreat.
I agreed to become a Road Main Evangelizer because during the time I was prayerfully considering it, I kept experiencing little 'messages' from sermons, from personal interactions, and just in my daily life that made me think my friend, the Holy Spirit, was asking me. I keep coming back because each retreat experience is different. I love meeting new people in new places, and I can't wait to see what happens next. I've found I'm truly more aware of the presence of Jesus in my life when I'm helping others experience Jesus in theirs. And I think I grow closer to Jesus the more I become aware of Him in my life.
I have been given much by God. Blessings that are not countable. Payback? Yes! The role I play is one that I can do. I can't sing or play an instrument. I can pray and I can talk in front of a group... I can help others. I met exceptional people at the new parishes that humble me and remind me how far I must go on my journey. I learn and grow in my faith by men and women I would have never met any other way. Being an introvert, LOTW pulls me out of my shell and continues to make me grow with others. Without LOTW my spirit life would be not as alive as the Holy Spirit has made that. I gain internal satisfaction when I can hear or look back and see someone being lifted to a new awareness based on my work for Christ.