By Michael Jacobeen
On Good Friday, 40 boys and girls gathered at St. Timothy Catholic Church in Chantilly, VA for a children’s retreat run by the parish’s Conquest group. The retreat, which was offered for kids in K-3rd grades, has become a tradition for the Conquest boys and this was the 7th year that they had organized this apostolic project. Many of the children had participated in past years. In fact, one of the moms commented that her 2nd grade twins looked forward to this retreat and that her older children had fond memories of it. Led by 11th grade team leaders Joe Rice and Jack Cunningham, the 5th-8th grade Conquest boys organized a morning of crafts, games, and living Stations of the Cross. Reflecting on his experience of the apostolic activity Jack commented, “It was great to make kids laugh and have fun but at the same time teach them about Christ’s passion.” The theme of the retreat followed the theme of the Diocesan Bishop’s Lenten Appeal, “Sharing Gospel Joy.” The children were encouraged to share this joy especially by being kind to their siblings and helping their parents. The highlight of the morning was the living Stations of the Cross that the boys performed. The younger children were so engaged that the “soldiers” had to gently guide them to back up to give enough space to reenact the Stations. Fouth-grader, Gabirel Shermer, who played Jesus, said, ‘I think the retreat was so much fun. I really liked it because I did the living Stations of the Cross.” His mom, Andrea, added, “It was wonderful to watch the children interact with each other, talking about the gift of Good Friday…with such gentle joyfulness. The older boys were so kind and patient but definitely fun-loving, which kept the children’s attention.” In total, over 20 Conquest members helped out with the retreat. Overall, this is a great apostolic project for the middle school Conquest members, it is easy to do, and once done it easily becomes an annual event that supports the youth in the parish.