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Notre Dame Vision - July 8-12, 2013 - Pictures

Notre Dame Vision is a week long exploration of our Call to Discipleship which poses the question, "how will we share our gifts with others and with the world". These pictures below are of some of our young people who were at Notre Dame Vision 2013 at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana.

Notre Dame Vision Reflections - One of the best ways for our parish to know the impact of a week at Notre Dame Vision, is to hear from our teens about their experience. I asked them all to write about either: What message did you hear most strongly when you were at Notre Dame Vision? or What did you enjoy most about your week, at Notre Dame Vision? The articles below are their response to one of those questions.

Alex - Being able to attend Notre Dame Vision again was an amazing experience. It was my second time attending and this year I got to participate in the vision plus program. One activity we did was a game about making choices which showed us what it is like to live in other countries and how hard it can be. Afterwards, we talked about which choices we made and our outcomes. The next activity was to see if we could live by ourselves for a month making everyday decisions. My group was lucky enough to make it with about 200 dollars left over, but some choices we needed to make were difficult. My group was do much fun. We got along well and many of us were from the Chicago land area. I learned so much about myself. I learned that I should be myself and not be who everyone else wants me to be. Each day had different discussions and it was great to be with different people and hear about their lives. Last year I said I wish I could have gone sooner in my high school life, but then I would never have met the people I met. I can safely say the same goes for this year. I am glad I had this experience.

Matt - Notre Dame has helped me tremendously! This was my second year going to Notre Dame and this year was the best out of the two! We had different speakers and the speakers we had this year, were great! The one that really got to me was a new speaker we had and his name was Terry Nelson Johnson. He spoke to us about getting second chances and this hit home because I need second changes, too. Everyone needs second chances actually, and it helped realize how small the second chance can be, but how very helpful they are to us. I was able to learn and understand so many more things this year and everything is still running through my mind. I have so many thoughts in my head from this experience.

One of the other things I liked this year was the hour of silence we were encouraged to take. During that hour we can go where ever we want but, we are encouraged not to talk with anyone, just to be in the silence and listen for the voice of God. This year I went by one of the many beautiful lakes they have there, I sat up against a tree and closed my eyes and I just sat there. It was so great because from sitting there for a while, I was gone. What I mean by that is, that my mind was gone. I could feel my body still sitting there at the tree but all the noises from the cars were gone and the only noises I heard was the water, the fishes and the birds. I could feel the air on my face. It was the most relaxing and best thing ever. It helped me so much to sit in quiet like that. I can't wait to do it again and just go away like that again!

This whole trip has taught me to give second chances and for me to truly be myself 24/7, 365 days a year. It also taught me that I will always have someone with me to help me, guide me and to give me the second chance that I need, no matter how small it is.

I want to thank the whole church from the bottom of my heart for helping us go on this trip and for the support. Thank you very much and God bless you all!

Samantha - There was an experience that I was privileged to be a part of; that experience was called ND Vision. To be honest, I didn't know what to expect. I was having anxiety because I was like, am I going to be put with people I'm not going to get along with. May I remind you that there were 350 or more people there. But all those worries went away when I got there. It was a very welcoming group of people. When I got there we got to our rooms and then went to meet our small groups. My small group was amazing. We got along pretty well. But one of the reasons for the small groups was to talk about the speakers. There were quite a few speakers but, the one that stood out the most for me was a woman named Stephanie. The way she presented was awesome. She got everyone drawn in by using comedy and having people be interactive. But after all that she got serious. Stephanie used her own life stories, like how people always brought her down but then she realized that she shouldn't care what people said and only God can judge her. It was a very powerful talk and a sensitive topic.

I care about what people say about me because that's just how it is now-a-days. You feel pressure all over. But this presentation made me realize that I shouldn't care as much about what others think. Mainly, you should just care about what God thinks and about His plan is for me. There are many other things I realized during this week long retreat called ND Vision and I am so thankful for that.

Jessica - Despite the fact that this was my third year going to Notre Dame Vision, I still feel like it just keeps getting better and better each time I go back. Each time I participate, with the lessons that I am learning about God’s calling, the people that I am meeting and all of the adventures that I am experiencing, I learn more and more about myself. I think that the best part about this year at Notre Dame Vision was some of the guest speakers that came each day to talk to all of us about God’s calling and the way in which we should answer. The speaker who came who really stood out to me was a lady named Stephanie and I really love how they keep asking her to come back each year. In the beginning, she pretended to be this little girl who was trying to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich in a really bizarre way. She then switched to the part of her talk when it got the rest of us to think about how we need to realize that there is a call, a call to love ourselves as much as God does. Stephanie put these boxes on her that had these labels on them like “going nowhere”, “ugly”, and “stupid.” These words were things that people used to call her when she was younger because of certain things that happened to her. She went on to telling us stories on how she eventually gained the courage to ignore the words and other things that people said about her because she knows that God made her and He loves her very much, no matter what happens to her. After that, she read us a story about wooden figures that would receive stars and dots that would stick to their bodies. There was this one wooden toy who would receive only dots from other people and dots weren’t good. The wooden toy then went to see his master and the master told him that the stars and dots don’t matter because the master told him that he loves him because he made him; that was when a dot fell off of his body.

After the story, Stephanie told us to close our eyes and that we need to take out time into take off our boxes. This was really a moment for me because I was truly crying my eyes out as I was taking off my boxes. For a long time, I thought that the things that people said about me were true but in that moment, I felt like I was a new person. I felt like I truly gained the courage to not listen to what other people said about me because I know that God loves me and I love him. The people who say things about me are not the types of people I would consider to really care about me. I also know that my true friends and family members are the people that I see in my daily life that truly care about me. I am my own person and no one can take that away from me. We are God’s movie stars because we are perfect in His eyes. I felt like this was my favorite part because I felt like I needed to hear from a person who really knows what it feels like to not care about what other people say about you and to know that God truly loves you because He made you and me.

Amanda - Going to Notre Dame Vision was such an amazing experience. While I was there I met so many amazing people and heard so many incredible speakers. One speaker really stood out to me. Her name was Stephanie. Her speech was about self love. Stephanie's speech touched everyone. She used stories from her own life to teach us a lesson. The lesson she taught us was to not care what others think of us. The only person that can judge us is God because, he made us how we are. I am so thankful that I got the opportunity to listen to Stephanie because she has truly impacted my life.

Nicole - My week in the Notre Dame Vision program included learning many new things. It was hard to just choose one experience that made the most impact on me. But one woman named Stephanie topped all of the speakers. As a returning member of the program I had heard Stephanie speak before. In the previous year she had done an outstanding performance as well, so coming into the week again I knew her talk was going to be one to pay attention to. As Stephanie walked in the room she brought everyone to laughter. She always had something funny to say, but always connected it to a bigger point in her life. This year, Stephanie had told us different stories that made her but a “box” on herself. As she told and relived each story, she had put a box over herself (literally and metaphorically). Her first story was about a moment she wanted to make the cheerleading squad; she tried to make every requirement perfect so that could not turn her down. As tryouts came, she found out she had made the squad. She was ecstatic; all her hard work had paid off. But in her moment of glory a former classmate stood up and said “cheerleaders are not supposed to be fat and ugly” as this happened Stephanie had put two boxes over herself that said “fat and ugly”. The second story was after high school, she was accepted into one of the colleges she wanted to attend. Again, in a moment of enjoyment her father had walked into her room. He told her “Stephanie I will not be upset if at any moment you decide to drop out of college and come back home.” Stephanie than had put another box over herself that said “stupid”. She went through life with all these boxes over her everywhere she went, everything she did. One day while she was teaching her students, she decided to read them a book. This book was about students that would always get stars for good behavior. But one of these students never got any stars. Someone would try to give him a star but it always just fell off of him. He went on wondering why these stars never stuck to him. He had asked the teach one day, and she had said the stars do not stick to him because he does not let the stars define who he really is. The story related back to all the boxes Stephanie had put over herself, and in this instant she told herself “why do I have these boxes over me, they do not have to define me?” As she took off her boxes, she was a free woman. She was not defined by what other people had thought about her, she was defined as what she thought about herself. As Stephanie concluded her story, she made everyone put their heads down, and rip any boxes, that they had collected over themselves, off. When Stephanie’s presentation was over with I knew that she had helped me overcome one of my biggest fears in life. Do not go on life worrying about what other people say, or what boxes you have put on yourself. You must love yourself and you will be happy.

Arlisse - For the past hour now, I’ve been trying to come up with words that I could use to describe Notre Dame Vision, and how thankful I am. I now realize why this is so difficult – because there are none. There are no words that I could possibly use that would explain how grateful I am that I was able to go and experience it. Every mentor invested themselves in us. Every participant was overjoyed with being there. But most importantly, every speaker they had was absolutely brilliant. My favorite speaker was named Stephanie. Among her jokes and funny stories, she spoke to us seriously about insecurities. Whether it was not feeling good enough at school or appearances, she touched on it. She taught us that no matter how many times you think you’re not good enough, or that you’re a “no,” we’re always a “yes” to God. He loves us unconditionally. God doesn’t care if I don’t make the honor roll. He doesn’t care if I’m not a size two. So, why should I? I’ve heard variations of this before, and I’ve always ended up believing it for about a week or so. Eventually however, I revert back to my skepticism. But, Stephanie spoke in such a relatable way, and with such relevance that I was quite literally bawling my eyes out towards the end. And I wasn’t alone. All around me there were people crying, and to finish up, we all said the Our Father together. I believe this is the most important thing I heard at vision – that God loves and accepts everyone, and that he doesn’t care about something as trivial as whatever we’re insecure about. It’s something that I think everyone should have heard. And I feel so fortunate that I was there to witness it. But that wouldn’t have been possible without the parish supporting the teen club spiritually and financially. And just like Notre Dame Vision, there are no words to describe how thankful I am.

 

Lauren - My experience at Notre Dame Vision was a lot different than I expected it to be. I thought it was going to be a good opportunity to get away from home for a week, eat some really good food, and meet new people. I was wrong. I went into it hoping I would have the time of my life but when I had to separate from my friends, it was pretty hard. We were put into small groups and no one really knew each other. For the first couple of hours it was pretty awkward. After a couple of meetings everyone started to talk more, except for me. I was convinced that the people in my group hated me and that they'd wanted nothing to do with me. I sat there almost the entire time not talking in small group, unless my mentors made me. But, by the end of the week we had to write letters of affirmation and everyone wrote to people in their group. I thought people wouldn't be able to write one thing for me being that I had not talked much. By to my surprise they had the kindest things to say and by the end of Vision, I realized that the people in my group saw that I did care about them and they cared about me. I am blessed to have gone to Notre Dame Vision and I am truly blessed for all the people I met there.