Young Adult Retreat “Changing Water into Wine-Becoming the Person God Created You to Be”

Malvern hosted a Young Adult Retreat on May 10 - 11, 2013 at Malvern Retreat House. The theme was Changing Water into Wine - Becoming the Person God Created You to Be and the retreatants utilized the “Spiritual Gifts Inventory” developed by Sherry Weddel and Fr. Michael Sweeney, O.P. from the Catherine of Siena Institute out of Colorado.

Some references we discussed are as follows:

* Catherine of Siena Institute web site is here.

* Click here to order the Spiritual Gifts Inventory

* The complete “Called and Gifted” package including all workbooks (for individuals and groups) as well as all conference talks from Sherry Weddell and Father Michael Sweeney, O.P. can be ordered here.

* Other resources for individuals as well as small group study can be found here.

* “The Parish - Mission or Maintenance?” was a talk given by Sherry and Fr. Sweeney in the year 2000 in Rome which provides insights on how charism - aware Catholics could transform Catholic parishes. A copy of the talk can be found here.

* If you attended, a link to our evaluation survey can be found here.

*To view pictures from this Young Adult Retreat, click here.

The presentation slides from the retreat are below…


Finally, a copy of my homily based on the readings from the Saturday Vigil Mass (7th Sunday of Easter) can be found below:

  • In the early years of the Church, all were welcome at the Eucharist.
  • But at some point, some special populations were dismissed with blessings at various times throughout the service, beyond which it would not be appropriate or comfortable for them to continue. (For example: The dismissal of catechumens after the Liturgy of the Word as seen today in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults).
  • There have been, at various times, special dismissal rites for widows, who would then go out into the community to minister to the needs of other widows, other women, children and the physically ill.
  • And there were special rites, blessings and dismissals for afflicted people suffering from the frightening, unpredictable, or emotionally debilitating effects of what we now diagnose as mental illness. In a Men’s Gospel reflection group to which I belong, every week we pray for the “afflicted, the addicted, the anxious, and the angry.” We ALL fit at least one of those categories at some point, don’t we?
  • Notice that the afflicted were not ejected, but sent forth with a blessing, the prayer of the community and in the company of caregivers. The hospitality offered today to the homeless and mentally ill in many of our urban cathedrals and churches echos of this rite of care for the afflicted.


  • Rescue is always needed. We all need to be rescued - every single day. This is especially the case after you’ve opened up your heart (cobwebs, skeletons and all) for the world to see on a retreat like this weekend. Unfortunately, the enemy will see it, too. As your vulnerability is exposed, his lies start rapid fire…“What do you even know about this stuff?” “Why should you be a voice on this topic?” You’re too young. You don’t have enough experience, enough training, and/or enough graduate credits. You might not be able to ignore the voice or chase it away. So you invite ANOTHER voice - THE voice - HIS voice - into the conversation, and let THE Word drown out the other words.
  • Holding onto the cup - Maybe you’re not a bona fide expert in a particular field or “charism” that you discovered this weekend. But you DO know what it feels like to wonder if you will ever change. You DO know what it feels like to wonder if you will always have to struggle. When the shadows enter, remember that “The reason the cup does not pass you by, and why you must accept and drink from the cup, is because it is absolutely crucial for what you are doing in this world; for your charisms to shine forth, for redemption to occur.” (Remember the story of Kat in the prison?) Redemption does not come any other way than accepting, and drinking from, the cup that is passed to you.
  • 2 Corinthians 12:10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” People will come to you when you are at your WORST and say how your words or gestures moved them or touched them or changed their life at a critical moment. Others will join in and their words will nourish your soul, each truth spoken replacing the lies. This becomes a gathering of hearts where God offers you a gentle reminder of the power of a community of learning and loving, much like you, hopefully, experienced this weekend at Malvern Retreat House.
  • And yet, even though you sense what they say to be true, you almost want to run away. It’s too deep, too personal, too close. You’re afraid of committing your emotions and getting burned. Of COURSE you want to run away - but you can’t. It’s hard to run away with no shoes on. And that’s what happens when you’re standing on holy ground, near the burning bush.

Men - and women - who come to Malvern often ask, “How do we pass on the faith, Father to Son; parents to children; people to friends or colleagues?” We are all earthen vessels and probably a little bit cracked as well. But the advantage of a cracked vessel is that the wine inside begins to pour out onto people around it. This weekend’s retreat was a way to discern what charisms we had - not to determine how wonderful, or holy, or talented we are, but to also acknowledge that we are also cracked vessels, which contain water turned into wine by Christ. And as the wine pours out, cracked vessels might, in turn, be used to feed others.

(Homily based on Joanne K. McPortland’s Catholic and Crazy: The Asylum of Faith as well as “Untethered” by Rebekah Lyons)

4 Comments Add yours

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    1. Fr. Charles Zlock says:

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