Notre Dame Vision 2018; An Unforgettable Experience
By Brianna Trepa and Albin Arulanandu
Notre Dame 2018 was a trip to remember for all of the attendees from the teenagers in our parish youth group, TUF, also known as “Teens United in Faith”. This past summer from July 8th to July 13th our TUF kids went on their own journey of faith to the university of Notre Dame. The TUF participants attended the youth leadership conference at Notre Dame, and came back with an eager enthusiasm to spread the word and love of Jesus Christ to our community and all the communities near us.
Our trip started with a bang as all of us arrived at Phoenix Sky Harbor airport at 3:30 AM in the morning. As we all poured into the airport, half-awake not knowing what’s going on, we realized we were going to be just as tired throughout the whole week. Our flight took off from the airport at 7:50 AM and arrived at Chicago Midway airport; from there we drove to Lake Michigan, where we had lunch and went swimming.
Then, all of us tired and exhausted teenagers were transported to the Inn at St. Mary’s where all the TUF members stayed. The next morning, we packed and headed to Notre Dame and got checked into our dorms for the week. That night we were all introduced to our small groups for the week. Each small group had 2 mentors, college volunteers, willing to share their faith with all of the teens coming from all around the world.
That evening we had dinner at South dining hall and were introduced to the eventful and faithful journey for that week. Tuesday morning, we woke up extremely early, at least it felt like that because we are teenagers. We headed to breakfast where we sat with our small group that we had met the day before.
After we were done eating we headed to the main hall to start the day off with a beautiful morning prayer. This led us into our second keynote presentation of the week. The theme of this talk was centered around the phrase, “Who do you love”. Within this discussion we spoke about love and how the only way to truly love another person is to overcome your own selfishness and put them first. This is a very hard concept to understand for teenagers and even adults because it is very easy to get caught up in your own problems and struggles that you end up ignoring those around you, especially the people you are closest to.
At the conclusion of the talk, the college student mentors performed a play based off of The Parable of the Good Samaritan for the teens attending vision. The play was used to teach us that being a by-stander to the emotional or physical suffering of others is not an option and that we should care for them with love and kindness.
When it was around 8:00 PM, we made our way down to the Basilica for the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Although going to Reconciliation at our Church is always an amazing experience, it always feels different while at Notre Dame. I think it’s because you are surrounded by hundreds of other people your own age that are going through the same struggles as you, so there is a sense of comfort in the Church that is different from anything I have ever felt.
The rest of the week was full of many more amazing and eye-opening experiences such as multiple masses, prayers, stories of grace, worship, and adoration. At the end of the week I felt more in touch with God and my faith than I have felt in my entire life. As well as becoming close to our faith, we became close with the members of our small groups with whom we had spent the week.
At the end of these five days, the seven strangers we met on the first day of vision became some of our closest friends with which we could talk to about anything that was on our mind. We ended our time at Notre Dame with a morning mass and our final small group meeting. In this last small group, we gave each person a letter which told them of the wonderful traits we had seen in them, how they have helped us to grow in our own faith and gave our phone numbers so that we could stay in touch even from across the country.
This last day with our new friends was sad but also extremely happy because even though we were leaving, we knew that the impact we had made on each other would last us a lifetime. After small group, vision had officially ended, it was time for the St. Thomas More TUF team to make our way to the airport and fly back to Arizona. We all had different experiences over the past five days, but one thing we could all agree on was that this was an experience that we would never forget!August 28, 2018