Article was originally posted on the Regnum Christi website.
When Regnum Christi members, Elizabeth Conklin and Mary Henkel noticed the leadership qualities of the girls on their 7th/8th grade Challenge team, they wanted to come up with an apostolic project that would highlight their gifts and and help them discover how they could put those gifts to use for the Church. “I remembered when I was in 8th grade and an RC missionary and consecrated woman helped my Challenge team put on a Lenten retreat at our parish. We based it on the movie Frozen. We planned almost the entire thing by ourselves. They would meet with us for a short time each week to see how we were progressing and give us advice. The retreat was a great success — I will always remember it. I wanted the girls on my Challenge team to have the same experience I did, so we decided to do a Lenten retreat as our apostolic project,” explained Mary.
Elizabeth shared how they gave retreat planning binders to the girls and hosted a movie night/planning party where they watched the Disney movie, Hercules, and based the retreat on themes from the movie. “I noticed that the girls really started to gel as a team after that movie night. They were all so excited once the ideas started flowing. Brainstorming and planning together helped them to get to know one another on a deeper level than they could during the weekly Challenge meetings.”
The retreat planning process was not without its difficulties. “We decided on the idea for the apostolic project and then had only three weeks to plan the whole thing…it’s not easy getting middle-schoolers together to plan in such a short time and still be able to promote the event well,” Mary explained. “I started to get discouraged when the Wednesday before the retreat we only had five girls registered so I thought we may have to cancel it.” In just two short days, those registration numbers had more than quadrupled! However, the difficulties did not end there. The morning of the retreat while they were trying to set up, all the bloopers started to happen. From a set of lost car keys leaving an adult advisor stranded, to a malfunctioning AV system, the retreat team started to get a little nervous.
Elizabeth shared how Mrs. Henkel (the Challenge Club leader) “took our team into the chapel even though some of the girls had already started to arrive. We all knelt in front of the tabernacle, prayed to the Holy Spirit and then she placed all of the problems and difficulties into Our Lady’s hands and asked her ‘undo the knots.’ The prayer was so simple, but it changed the day for me.”
Our Lord and Our Lady heard their prayers as all the bloopers gave way to a fun-filled, faith-filled day. Twenty-seven 3rd-6th graders attended the retreat which Pinecrest Academy graciously agreed to host. In keeping with the Greek Hercules theme, activities included an Olympic competition where the winners were crowned with olive wreaths.
Fr. William Brock, LC, who was the chaplain for the retreat, heard over thirty confessions and celebrated a concluding mass with the parents in attendance.
In post-retreat survey, 100% of respondents rated the retreat a “10” and wanted to be notified of future events. “I loved every part of the day,” responded one attendee.
One parent shared, “This is a good, good idea! The Holy Spirit was definitely with the team leaders!” Natalia Santos, ECYD Director in Atlanta, commented, “I’m really so proud of these young Regnum Christi women and their desire to form our ECYD members to help make them agents of evangelization in the Church. This Lenten retreat initiative was a great success!”