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Notre Dame Vision - July 7-11, 2014 - 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 2014 at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana.

After a week of personally reflecting on their Faith and How their Gifts Could Change the World, the Teens that participated in the Notre Dame Vision experience, will share their thoughts about their encounter. The experience deeply touches all who attend. Please enjoy their Witness to Faith Refelctions below. If, as a parent, you wish to help your teen KNOW their faith, consider encouraging their involvement in Youth Ministry or their attending Vision next year.
- Kim McMillan - Youth Ministry Coordinator

Reflection by Daren Sia - My Experience of Faith After Notre Dame Vision

It’s hard to imagine that it’s been two entire years since I’ve joined St. Celestine Youth Ministry. At times, I still feel as if I’ve just graduated 8th grade. However, I’ve come far from that point both academically and spiritually. The entire spiritual aspect primarily developed through the St. Celestine Youth Ministry. It is an extremely close-knit group that is able to not only joke around and have fun, but also engage in meaningful spiritual encounters such as the prominent youth-led masses. A primary motif in my experiences of the SCYM was the regular mention of the beloved program: Notre Dame Vision.

Notre Dame Vision had this air about it that brought strong emotions from those who have participated. Whether it was a reference to a joke made during the seminar or a statement of longing or “ND Vision Depression” because of missing the food or the people or the program itself, whenever people talked about Notre Dame Vision, it was always with very high regard. This attitude toward this program made me curious as to whether it could really live up to the hype.

I had a last minute opportunity to join Notre Dame Vision 2013, but I decided to opt out of it because of its high costs. However, some of my very close friends signed up to go last year. Therefore, I decided to base my opinions of it on whether to go on Notre Dame Vision 2014, on their experience to some degree. As always, the magical air of Notre Dame Vision carried back through my peers, and was “mediated” into me. Not only did they appear to have the time of their lives through their numerous photos, but there was one major component within their behavior after Notre Dame Vision that convinced me to go this year: it was as if they’ve been strengthened in faith. I’ve had struggles with faith in the past, and it just amazed me to think that a 5-day seminar would have such a profound impact.

Now, along with my peers, I can attest to the fact that Notre Dame Vision is completely worth it. There are two main ways in which the program has proven that to me. The first was, as aforementioned, the costs of the program. While they are relatively high for a 5-day program, the cost is totally worth the experiences. My schedule was filled to the brim with activities with only so much room for free time. However, the major benefit of Notre Dame Vision was through the program itself, of course.

I believe that one should go into Notre Dame Vision with as little information as possible so that the immersion is most effective. However, there were three general beliefs that really stood out.

The entire element of Notre Dame Vision is the idea of our witness to holiness, through the saints. Each participant is put into a group with a certain witness (“saint”), and the main theme, “answering God’s call” is looked at with a focus on, how the group’s witness answered his or her call. Every group meets after a talk or a seminar or activity, etc. and simply shares about how they witness faith through their witness (saint). I feel as if I became closer to my fellow members in small group than people within school that I’ve known for much longer, and I know the friendships we made will last a lifetime.

It’s been two years since I’ve joined St. Celestine Youth Ministry; therefore, I am going to be a junior in High School. My entire high school career so far, people have told me that junior year is the hardest with balancing the workload with extracurricular activities and the numerous standardized tests. Needless to say, this has led to some stress and anxiety. However, Notre Dame Vision has helped me realize two things. The first is that God’s love is truly unconditional, no matter the circumstances. The second is that I can overcome my wounds, and use my gifts to the best of my abilities, and do anything I put my mind to, including admission to the University of Notre Dame.

As aforementioned, I’ve had struggles with faith and confidence in the past. I think it’s primarily because of my inability to find time for my faith. However, I am sure there are a multitude of reasons that are beyond me. I never really felt I could be myself. I still can’t pinpoint the reason why I’ve felt this way for so long, only speculation. Despite that, I truly believe Notre Dame Vision has really built up my confidence and my faith. I’m making a conscious effort to ask myself questions such as, “Am I doing the right thing?” and “Am I doing the absolute best that I can?” I try to engage more in conversation with not only my peers but, within my prayer life with God. Even though it has literally been three days since I’ve left Notre Dame Vision 2014, I feel as if I know more of God’s grace, and can only continue to grow with not only his help, but through the help of my friends, family, and community.

In summation, I strongly encourage all those interested in Notre Dame Vision to seriously look into the program. If you have any questions about Notre Dame Vision, please feel free to contact me. I seriously believe that God has shown me His grace through this program to help me mediate his love throughout the entire world, and I am extremely thankful for that. It has had such a profound impact on me that I am only scratching the surface of my true emotions, and I truly cannot wait until I am able to attend Notre Dame Vision 2015.

 

Reflection by Arlisse Lim - Notre Dame Reflection

I distinctly remember waking up on the morning of July 7, 2014, and thinking to myself, I’m going to Notre Dame today. After what seemed like the longest year ever, I would be going back to the oasis that was Notre Dame Vision, filled with blossoming friendships, spiritual havens, and ridiculously hot dorm rooms. I was beside myself with excitement. My experience from last year was fresh in my mind: the fine details were a bit fuzzy, but the general events remained largely intact.

There are a multitude of things that I love about ND Vision, and if I were to list all of them in detail, believe me when I say that this reflection would be at least five pages long – the speakers, the singing, the dancing, the camaraderie, amongst many others. However, my favorite thing at Vision, are the small groups. My love for my small group, both this year and last year, is insurmountable. Sure, the first meeting was awkward. I mean, what do you expect would happen if you stick eight teenagers together and make them talk about their feelings? Silence. As the week went on, however, the silence was broken by laughter and stories and even some tears here and there. I would talk to a member of my small group for no less than ten minutes, and right away, we would find something we are both interested in – be it books, music, cartoons, etc.

The solidity of the friendships that are formed at Vision continues to amaze me, because they are unbreakable. It is August 2014, and I still talk to my friends from Vision, both from last year and this year. It amazes me, because if not for our common desire to further our relationship with God, we would not have met. It is because of God, that I have met so many beautiful people the past two summers. One of the speakers they had said, “I hope that when you leave here, Vision made you think to yourself, I want to be a saint.” Now, I’m not so sure about sainthood, but the relationships I made there definitely made me want to be a better person. In small group, we would share our experiences, and there was no judgment, or scorn, or anything that made you feel less than loved and appreciated and whole. That is the sole reason why it is a safe haven for me. The world outside of Notre Dame Vision is not so kind. Notre Dame Vision made me look at myself and my actions, and I’ve realized that there have been times when I have been judgmental and scornful, and that is not how I want to be. I want to be loving and appreciative. I want to be a safe haven.

I love Vision. As long as I am able and fortunate enough to go, I will. You might wonder why a five day Jesus Camp means so much to me, but the answer is simple - the wonderful people I’m fortunate enough to call my friends. It was by our faith we were drawn together, and what a happy coincidence that was.

 

Reflection by MaryClaire Schmidt - Notre Dame Vision

Going to Notre Dame Vision was such an amazing experience. It was my first and last year that I was able to attend. Going into it I was expecting it to be a bunch of super holy people and I was afraid I wasn’t going to get along with any of them. I was completely and utterly shocked with what really happened. At Notre Dame Vision we learned our gifts and how they affect others. In order to learn these gifts we learned about the lives of the saints. I can say I was honestly shocked to see how imperfect the saints were. All of them had mistakes and qualities that weren’t saintly at all. Seeing that the people I look up to aren’t perfect made me realize that it’s ok to not be the mirror image of perfection. Some of the mentors shared with us, what struggles they had or still have in their lives. That meant a lot to me, seeing them up there sharing their pain with me. If they can be open about it, why can’t I. That was the starting point for my experience at Notre Dame. That’s when I really started to take in everything I was learning and be more open in my small group. I made friends for a life time with people who know my deepest, darkest secrets and fears and they still accepted me for me. I have a lot of physical and mental “issues” that I hold against my self and I have struggled with them for a very long time. This trip made me come to peace with my life and the people in it. I still struggle with certain aspects of my life but I still stay in contact with my friends and having them for support really helps me through some tough times. You don’t have to be completely religious to go to Vision; you don’t have to be a certain kind of Catholic. There, people accept you for you. I recommend to others to go and open up and experience life like you never have before. Just say “YES”.

Reflection by Martha Kostiuk - Notre Dame Vision

Notre Dame Vision 2014 was my first time attending Vision. I didn’t know exactly what to expect, so I was a bit nervous, but I had heard nothing but great stories and fun experiences from everyone who had been before. Now I have my own amazing experiences to share. From the moment our bus pulled into the Notre Dame parking lot, I had a good feeling about how this week was going to turn out. The moment we got there, we were greeted by two optimistic and welcoming leaders. From that point on, everyone I met, or even came in contact to, was happy, warm, and inviting.

Now, I could probably go on and on for several pages about every person, event, or experience that I loved, but I believe it’s best if I sum up my most memorable adventures into a couple paragraphs. My favorite part of each day was gathering with everyone in DeBartolo Hall, singing songs along with the St. Cecilia band and hearing from funny, inspiring speakers every day. I loved the feeling that I got whenever everyone was together. There was a big sense of love and unity throughout the whole room. With everybody participating, whether through singing, acting, activities, or just simply speaking, it felt like we were a family instead of strangers. Each and every day, as I got more and more comfortable with everything going on, I realized that Vision had made me feel like I was at home.

Another personal favorite of mine was being placed in small groups. I’ll be honest, I was a bit wary of this one. The thought of being placed in a group of teens that I had never met before, and had to spend the rest of the week with, made me pretty darn nervous. But once we sat down and got to talking, I realized that I had nothing to be afraid of. Our leader gave us topics as a jumping-off point to talk, and from there we discussed not only our faith, but our thoughts, visions, opinions, and goals. I quickly began to feel more relaxed, comfortable, and most importantly, safe, in my small group. I felt like I could talk to them about anything, whether it was about my faith or personal life. There were serious talks, thought-provoking talks, and some light-hearted ones to balance out the mix as well. By the end of the week, I was extremely sad to see them go, but I couldn’t have been more grateful and proud to meet such intelligent, unique, and lovely people.

In a nutshell, I absolutely adored Vision. I learned more about my faith than I ever thought I could learn in 5 days. The best part about Vision is that they make you want to be a better person. They tell us to not only listen, but to take what we’ve learned and put it into action, just as the saints have over the years. Just simply being at Vision made me want to be a better person, and to share what I had learned there with the rest of the world. With the help of my amazing friends, and with the wisdom I gained from Vision, I promised myself that I would take what I learned and experienced and bring it to every aspect of my life and be the best version of myself that I can be. In those 5 days I grew so much in faith and love; I can honestly say that Notre Dame Vision was one of the best adventures of my life, and I can’t wait to go back next year.