TAPT XXVII retreat enables teens to see face of Christ in selves, others
By Steve Euvino
Northwest Indiana Catholic
VALPARAISO – Salvador Contreras, a teen from Our Lady of Guadalupe, East Chicago, has faced choices in high school and has had to choose between “nerd vs. cool,” conforming or being unique. The high school sophomore thinks of one thing: What would Jesus do?
“If you wouldn’t do it with Jesus, you shouldn’t do it at all,” Contreras said at TAPT XXVII the weekend of March 20-22 at Camp Lawrence.
Contreras was among more than 100 high school participants and staff at the annual TAPT (Teens Are Praying Together) retreat.
Sponsored by the Office of Youth & Young Adults, TAPT is designed to bring teens into a more intimate encounter with the Incarnate Jesus Christ so that she or he is better equipped to evangelize. The three-day weekend includes witness talks, follow-up discussions, activities, prayer, reconciliation, and the Eucharist.
Contreras said he’s been “lucky” in avoiding potentially dangerous situations, including drugs and ditching school. “I try to lead by good example,” he said. “It’s easy to say one thing and do another. Then I’d be a hypocrite. I do by example.”
Jeannine Quigley, an adult leader with the “Radiate” youth group from St. Michael the Archangel, Schererville, was attending her first TAPT. “I want the teens to see the face of Christ in a different way and to deepen their faith,” she said. “I want them to have a deeper understanding of seeing Christ in themselves and others.”
Kevin Driscoll, diocesan youth and young adult coordinator, explained that TAPT allows high school teens to take time to come to know themselves, others, and Jesus Christ more intimately in their lives. The retreat, Driscoll said, is a prayerful journey exploring the Incarnation, ministry, death, and resurrection of Christ, paying particular attention to Lenten themes.
Joe Furdeck, an adult leader from St. Mary, Kouts, spoke on unconditional love, recalling how he helped distribute more than 3,000 backpacks with school supplies to children impacted by Hurricane Katrina. However, it was not until he and other volunteers spoke to the children about Christ’s love for them that he felt he was making a difference.
Those children “needed to know God was still there, and we were there to bring God to them,” said Furdeck, who asked TAPTsters to promise to say one thing each morning: “Today is a great day to be Christ to someone.”
Furdeck’s four sons have all attended TAPT, with Jack, his youngest son, at the 2015 retreat. His father’s talk was “pretty emotional,” said Jack, a high school freshman at his first TAPT. “His talk made me think about my church, which is loving and open to everybody.”
TAPT XXVII was a “family affair” for several people. Jordan Lomellin, at her second TAPT, was a member of the OATS (Our Auxiliary TAPT Staff) team working behind the scenes. A junior at Bishop Noll Institute and member of the PHYRE youth group from Whiting, Lomellin “loved the atmosphere of being around a bunch of Jesus-loving freaks, and I hope my brother feels the same excitement I did.”
At his first TAPT, Cameron Portlow, Lomellin’s brother, said, “I’m learning things I didn’t know about myself.” The Noll sophomore cited one retreat activity in which he had to speak with Jesus. “That really spoke to me,” the teen said. “It was just a good experience.”
Another member of the TAPT family was Doug Satoski, from St. Martin of Tours, LaCrosse. Making his first TAPT, Satoski was preceded by both parents, two older sisters, and one younger sister. “This has changed the way I look at things,” Satoski said. “I’ve met a lot of cool people. The people here are not going to judge you. You feel very safe. It’s a good environment.’
Satoski also cited a diverse group of TAPTsters – different races, personalities, levels of energy. “We all come together, we can talk, and we can join in one thing together,” he said.
TAPT concluded with a Mass on Sunday, preceded by a reconciliation service the previous evening. Among the clergy assisting was Bishop Donald J. Hying, who called reconciliation “a remarkable moment when we experience the mercy of God.”
Kim Morton, a mother of four from St. Patrick, Chesterton, in witnessing to reconciliation, said, “All are called to an intimate relationship with Christ. We just have to be willing to listen and answer his call with an eager heart, eager to please him and accept his love.”
Morton continued, “God is waiting for you to meet him in the sacrament of reconciliation. Allow him to shower you with the graces you need to make good decisions and the best choices.
“It’s my prayer for you today, that God reveals the depth of his love for you and that your ears and hearts be open to his love.”