It Happened! Diocesan youth retreat #33

The weekend of March 4 through March 6 was the 33rd annual DioCal “Happening” retreat for high schoolers. This year it was graciously hosted by St. Stephen’s, Orinda, and staffed and attended by youth from ten Diocese of California congregations, who gathered to play, pray, sing, teach, learn, and reflect on their Christian commitment with their peers. Participants included 26 first-time “Happeners,” and also 23 youth staff who have attended Happening previously in their high school careers.

The Happening model of weekend retreat is designed to foster not only deeper and more sustained faith commitments on the part of participants, but also to form young people for Christian leadership. The retreat content consists primarily of faith-based testimonies given by previous Happeners, and is complemented by small group reflection, worship, and games. Happening 33 youth co-rector Kirby Marion (of St. John’s, Oakland, who served together with Dillon Losee of St. Stephen’s, Belvedere) explains her own commitment to Happening as “a place where you can be you, unconditionally. Your quirks are welcome without question.”

Dozens of other adults — among them DioCal Associate for Discipleship Ministries Andrea Foote and parochial youth ministers from around the diocese — pitched in with various programmatic and support roles throughout the weekend. Help with meals, setup and cleanup, and small gifts of “caritas” are always welcome. But as Caren Miles (youth minister from St. John’s, Ross and one of the two adult "Guardian Angels” who supervised Happening 33) observed, “Happening is a reminder to me that youth are natural leaders, and our job is to sit back and let them lead.”