AUBURN — “Youth coming together in Christ is amazing.”

That is how Jacob Guillemette, 16, from St. Therese of Lisieux Parish in Sanford, describes what it’s like attending the annual Journey retreat.

“You can relax and be in a prayerful mood all weekend and also have the free time to hang out with friends of the same faith and be able to share something in common and to be able to talk about it,” he said.

Seventeen-year-old Maddie Prosack from St. Maximilian Kolbe Parish in Scarborough says Journey gives her an opportunity to step away and refocus.

“It is like the name. It is a journey. You come from school, and you’re stressed out in life, and then you come here, and it’s a wake-up call,” she said. “It helps you prepare yourself for the future, so I really like coming here.”

Jacob and Maddie were among 170 teenagers and adult chaperones from around the Diocese of Portland who gathered at St. Dominic Academy from Oct. 28 to 30, for Journey. Sponsored by the Office of Lifelong Faith Formation, the retreat is intended for high school youth who are seeking to grow and deepen their relationship with Jesus.


“The thing that I really hope that young people take away from this weekend is to realize that God does speak to them because many times in our relationships with God, we do all the talking. We’ve done a lot of talking and reflecting this weekend on how does God speak to us and helping young people become comfortable with the silence,” explained Maureen Provencher, coordinator for youth and young adult ministry in the diocese. 

Journey included Mass, adoration, prayer, the opportunity for the sacrament of reconciliation, talks and small group sessions. 

Bishop Robert P. Deeley also spent a morning with the teenagers, celebrating Mass with them. During his homily, the bishop told the young people that God has a plan for each of them, and it’s important that they take the time to stop and listen.

After Mass, the bishop held a question-and-answer session, with topics that ranged from the spiritual, to siblings, to snacks.

Journey is also an opportunity to build community. Friendships formed are often long-lasting, even if they’re among teens living hundreds of miles apart.

“It’s fun being with people who are my age, just being able to connect and also learn some more stuff about Jesus,” said Meghan Schupback, 14, from the Parish of the Precious Blood in Caribou, who was attending Journey for the first time. 

“I really like coming to Journey because of all the friends I have here,” said Schupback. “They’re so welcoming, and they’re just great people to talk to. They help me through everything, and they’re just really insightful, and I love them. Some of my best friends are here.”

Youths gather for Journey retreat at St. Dominic Academy.

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