Youth 2000 retreat brings Real Presence front and center

by Kristina Lahr | New Earth


Father Daniel Williamson, a Franciscan Friar of the Renewal, explains the goodness of the Sacrament of Reconciliation at the Youth 2000 retreat March 24-26 at Holy Spirit Church in Fargo.

“St. Francis said ‘Let your word be simple,’” said Brother Vittorio.

Brother Vittorio was one of several brothers, sisters and priests of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal that traveled to Fargo for the Youth 2000 retreat at Holy Spirit Church March 24-26. Youth 2000 began in 1990 as a response to Pope John Paul II’s call for a decade of evangelization. The success of the retreats naturally continued into the new century.

“It’s evolved through the grace of God and the guidance of our Lady and the Eucharist,” said Anne Brawley, creator of Youth 2000.

What makes Youth 2000 retreats so powerful is their focus on the Real Presence in the Eucharist. Throughout the weekend, the Eucharist was visible in the monstrance on the “burning bush” throughout the testimonies, music and prayer.

“Jesus is what it’s all about,” said Brawley. “He’s front and center. Young people today are looking for someone, for truth, and they are going to find it here. They are really focused on the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.”

“The Lord desires so much intimacy with us,” said Brother Vittorio. “Because of our sinfulness, we separate ourselves from that, but in his presence, he’s right here in front of our faces. It’s a beautiful encounter.”

Many of the religious were from the New York City area or Albuquerque, N.M where they focus on serving the poor and conducting parish missions about the Real Presence and Christ’s mercy and healing.

Tim Warzecha from Hibbing, Minn., brought his son to the retreat, remembering his experience attending Youth 2000 in 1997.

“The Franciscans introduced him to different aspects of the faith,” said Warzecha. “Here’s a group of people that specialize in helping the poor and evangelizing. Just to see that witness can cultivate the faith in a new way.”

“We try to raise the bar. We want the youth to know that something special is happening here,” said Brawley.

The retreat also included Mass, adoration, rosary, Reconciliation, music, testimonies and catechesis.