||The Franciscan Friars and Sisters of the Renewal facilitated the YOUTH 2000 retreat for high school youth and young adults in 2009 at the Bishop O’Connor Center in Madison. They will bring the weekend retreat to Madison again February 26 to 28. Photo slideshow of the 2009 YOUTH 2000 retreat. (CH file photo)
MADISON -- On Friday to Sunday, Feb. 26, 27, and 28, the Bishop O’Connor Catholic Pastoral Center will be host to a YOUTH 2000 retreat for high school and young adults, led by the Franciscan Friars and Sisters of the Renewal.
Hailing from the Bronx, New York, the Franciscan Friars and Sisters of the Renewal will bring their powerful preaching and witness to the young people of south-central Wisconsin by facilitating this weekend retreat aimed at helping all participants “meet Jesus Christ, risen from the dead,” in a life changing way.
Experience of Jesus Christ
YOUTH 2000 is more than a retreat — it is an experience of Jesus Christ. Having attended my first YOUTH 2000 retreat when I was a freshman in college over 10 years ago in St. Paul, Minn., I remember returning home and sharing with my mom that I finally learned what it meant to be truly Catholic.
The experience highlights the beauty of authentic prayer, talks, music, and fellowship, along with participation in Eucharistic Adoration and the sacraments of Eucharist and Reconciliation. There were seeds planted that weekend that continued to grow in me and result in noticeable fruit many years later!
What you need to know about YOUTH 2000
What age youth can attend?
Catholics in their teens and 20s (ages 13-30). Most participants are high school age. All minors 13 to 17 must be chaperoned.
What does it cost?
The fee of $40 per youth includes meals and live music — about $2 an hour!
What are the retreat times?
The retreat schedule is as follows: Friday, 6:30 p.m. to 11 p.m.; Saturday, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.; and Sunday, 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
What is the schedule?
Each day is packed: daily Mass, rosary, Eucharistic Adoration, opportunity for Reconciliation. Lively preaching by priests and Brothers. Dynamic live music. Small group sessions and kids’ testimonials…food and snacks, too!
Is this an overnight?
Overnight accommodations are available for the entire weekend at $45 each for junior high and high school participants, their chaperones, and primary volunteers who are Virtus trained. Security and supervision will be provided throughout both nights.
If we live in the area, do we have to stay overnight?
No. No one is required to stay overnight at the Bishop O’Connor Catholic Pastoral Center. You have the option of staying at the BOCPC, staying at a nearby hotel or parish, or going home at night.
What if I need to leave for a conflict?
Students may leave during the event if they give us a signed note from their parent or guardian. Their chaperone must sign them out.
What does a chaperone do?
You get to attend the retreat with your group throughout the weekend, enjoying all the great activities — talks, music, fellowship, food, and more. Together we’ll keep them engaged!
Are meals included?
Saturday lunch and dinner with beverages, as well as snacks throughout the retreat, are included for all participants. Eat dinner on Friday before you come. If you are staying overnight at the BOCPC, Saturday breakfast, late night snacks, and Sunday breakfast are included with your housing accommodations fee. Those not staying at the BOCPC are responsible for breakfast before they come on Saturday and Sunday.
How do I sign up?
Contact the youth minister at your parish, go to the Diocese of Madison Web site (www.madisondiocese.org/youth) or contact Marie Lins or Patrick Delaney at 608-821-3160 or
Are volunteers needed?
Yes! Please contact Anita Schmidt at 608-291-0282 or
In 2009, the first YOUTH 2000 retreat in the Diocese of Madison brought together over 300 youth for a weekend in March. Due to such powerful results from the retreat last year and because of its impact on youth throughout the world, Bishop Robert C. Morlino continues to invite all youth of the diocese to this powerful event.
“Many of my students were strongly affected by the YOUTH 2000 retreat. Before even talking to them, I could see it,” stated Carrie Skinner, a teacher at St. Ambrose Academy in Madison.
Response to Holy Father
YOUTH 2000, an international spiritual initiative, organizes and directs Eucharistic centered retreats for young people. Begun in 1990, YOUTH 2000 is a response to the challenge of Pope John Paul II to “become shining heralds of the reevangelization and generous architects of the civilization of love.”
Focus on the Eucharist
YOUTH 2000 promotes, organizes, and directs retreats based on the Gospel of St. John, Chapter 6, “I am the Bread of Life.” The focus on the Eucharist shows young people that Christ must be at the center of their lives.
The format of each retreat provides a means to help young people develop a deep and lasting personal relationship with Jesus Christ, especially in the Eucharist, “the source and summit of Christian life” (Lumen gentium 11). Young people gain a solid foundation upon which to build their lives.
The YOUTH 2000 Retreat always begins with Mass to show that Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament flows from the Mass.
Talks and discussion
The weekend also includes talks given by priests, testimonies by young people, and time for small group discussion. The speakers discuss topics important to young people, for example:
- Who is Jesus Christ?
- What does the world offer me?
- What are the values I seek?
- Do these values bring me a true and lasting peace?
- How do I pray?
- How can I affect other young people?
- How can I build a civilization of peace and love?
- How do I follow Jesus Christ?
The small discussion groups give youth an opportunity to meet with other young people, make new friends, and talk over the topics of discussion. The small groups also provide a forum for young people to discuss the many difficulties they face in the world today.
Philip, a sixth grader who attended the 2009 retreat, shared that “I liked how you could share your opinions and thoughts freely and openly. I really felt like I became closer to God.”
Mass is celebrated each day, during which time the Blessed Sacrament is reposed.
Sacrament of Reconciliation
The Sacrament of Reconciliation is another vital part of every YOUTH 2000 weekend. The priests discuss the sacrament in an effort to give young people a deeper understanding of the importance and the need for reconciliation with God. The sacrament is available throughout the weekend.
Many kinds of prayer
Retreat participants will experience prayer in many ways, in group and individual settings. “Knowing that there are other Catholic teenagers out there has helped me to feel more comfortable praying and being a Catholic at my public school,” shared Helen, a 2009 attendee from Madison.
Devotion to Mary, the Mother of God, is shown through daily recitation of the rosary lead by the young people and the crowning of the Blessed Mother on the last day.
Recreation is also a part of each YOUTH 2000. Meal time and breaks provide a great opportunity to meet, share, and laugh with youth from other places.
Over and over, young people have responded with great enthusiasm and zeal. Evidenced by the testimonies young people are invited to give at the end of each retreat, the youth are finding a true and lasting love for Jesus Christ and the Catholic faith. By placing Christ at the center of their lives, young people are finding a deep peace and a way to cope with the culture of today.
The experience of YOUTH 2000 is like none other. As Kayla, a 2009 participant from Mount Horeb, stated, “I wish I could get everyone to have the awesome experience I had.”