Living Life Inside-Out with God
The John Paul II Youth Foundation was established on the 16th of October 1981 based on a Papal Decree from their namesake as a Non-Profit Organization oriented towards Religion, Education, and Charity. Today, the Foundation can be found in 16 countries worldwide, including Indonesia, which are known as Friends of John Paul II Foundation. As the Indonesian branch of the Foundation, John Paul II Foundation Indonesia, Youth Section (JPII Youth) is comprised of young professionals focused on improving the various aspects of life as a Catholic Youth in Indonesia. One of the routine activities is the annual retreat, which in 2014 was held on November 1st and 2nd in Gadog, Megamendung.
The beginning of this joyful journey in togetherness was our meeting at the designated rendezvous, which was at 6.30 a.m. that Saturday, when we arrived one by one to fill our 56-seater bus. A warm and cordial atmosphere was immediately noticeable, as strangers became friends, and friends became reacquainted. Right on schedule, we departed at 7 a.m. towards our destination, the retreat location where we will refresh our faith, mind, and soul. Despite the familiar Jakarta traffic, we arrived without too much delay.
On our arrival, after we deposited our belongings at the receptionist, we were greeted by the welcoming afternoon tea and coffee. We then swiftly headed towards one of the meeting rooms to start our retreat which was to be led by the VicarisEpiscopalis of the Jakarta Archdiocese who was also a prominent supporter of environmental activism, Pastor Dr. Alexius AndangListyaBinawan, SJ. Our journey began with a short introduction and our first session, titled “Pure Love”. The main topic of the first session was on the subject of what love is and what the most important things related to love are. To help with focus on the subject, we were divided into groups of five to six members which will last the whole retreat. In this session, we discussed about three words that best represent love and about our own personal experiences before writing them down and then presenting them to the other groups.
As the time flew by, we left the room and proceeded to the lunch area where we enjoyed our relaxing lunch. That afternoon, we entered another, bigger function room that will serve as our “spiritual base” for the rest of the retreat.“Becoming Fruitful for God”, our next session, discusses the actions we should be taking after acquiring an understanding and realization of God’s boundless unconditional love for us. Aided by the slideshows, particularly a memorable one titled “God loves you, and so do I”, PastorAndang took us through the session with such clarity as to make it easy to absorb, while also taking into consideration audience participation so the overall impact was deeply felt by each individual.
After a short coffee break, the third session, “Loving God, Loving Others”, gave us another perspective on our outlook towards life through the medium of a puzzle game in our group. This seemingly simple game is highly symbolic, as explained by RomoAndang, as it explained to us that our life is comparable to a picture designed by God himself. However, sometimes we do not realize ourselves what these puzzle pieces represent because we cannot see the bigger picture that God has in store for us, so we have to observe from various perspectives and keep a positive attitude and an open mind to better understand His plan for us.
At around 6 p.m. we returned to the dining room for our dinner. Refreshed and with a full stomach, we began our last session for the day: the Taize mass, a meditative mass to the backdrop of silence and slower, repetitive songs. This type of mass is named after the region of France where it originated, where the mass is held regularly in candlelight. The mass was observed with great piety. After the mass, we shared some roasted corn in the moonlight, next to a large bonfire. Some of us were perhaps still feeling very awake, and took the time to indulge in the facilities, such as the ping pong or billiard table.
Sunday morning, we awoke to the knocks on our doors, ready for the sessions of the day. Our first session was the morning meditation where we empty our cluttered minds and returned to ourselves, concentrating solely on the Lord our Creator. With a peaceful and refreshed mind, the only missing thing to begin this second day is perhaps a filling breakfast, so we headed straight to the dining area. We had an interesting afternoon activity to reinvigorate us and bring us closer with a spirit of togetherness, we played a game where each team was assigned a different bible verse. The team then had to enact those verses so that other teams can attempt to guess the correct verse. The acting skills and the participants’ knowledge of the bible highly impressed the committee, but in the end the teams were whittled down until only one winner remained.
The sessions then followed suit with the first, “Loving God, Loving Our Family” and “Loving God, Loving Our Nature” where we talk about our sins and the truth in our everyday life, including our use of plastic and styrofoam. Time flew by and soon it was time for our lunch which was to be followed by the closing mass. At around 3 p.m. we departed the retreat grounds, back to Jakarta where we arrived in St Ursula Church at 5.30 p.m. before we said our goodbyes and returned to our daily lives.
Liputan Retreat John Paul II Youth Foundation
By: Peter AndiWiguna
Translation: Marco Giuberto