Northwest Deanery Annual Youth Retreat

North Texas Catholic
(Apr 5, 2024) Local

High school freshmen and sophomores engage with interest as they listen to an MSU student volunteer speaker at the March 23 Sanctus retreat organized by Debbie Veitenheimer and the Midwestern State University Catholic Campus Center. (NTC/Alicia Olvera)

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WICHITA FALLS — For nearly 20 years, Midwestern State University Catholic Campus Center has hosted Sanctus, a retreat for high school freshmen and sophomores that anticipates confirmation and Christ's Resurrection. Debbie Veitenheimer has organized every single one.

"It's called Sanctus, which means holiness. It's about our call to be holy," said Veitenheimer, campus minister of MSU Catholic Campus Ministry. 

This year, 111 high school students from the northwest deanery met at Our Lady Queen of Peace in Wichita Falls on March 23. 

Nine parishes in the mostly rural deanery sent students to the retreat, which provided the opportunity to celebrate Palm Sunday Mass, to adore the Blessed Sacrament, and to receive the sacrament of reconciliation.

"High school kids need retreats,” said Veitenheimer.

Three of 26 Midwestern State University Catholic Community volunteers smile at the March 23 Sanctus retreat organized for high school freshmen and sophomores by the MSU Catholic Center and Debbie Veitenheimer. (NTC/Alicia Olvera)

Many participants were confirmation candidates. Windthorst sophomore Luke Gregory, who will be confirmed in April, highlighted the opportunity to go to confession as a way he grew that day. "It's a great retreat to get closer to God," he said.

Three of the 26 MSU volunteers spoke on living the Catholic faith.

"A big thing is knowing that there's people that go to college and still have their Catholic faith," said Renée Dobson, fiancée of speaker Devin Quintero. "It's a really good role model to look up to."

"The kids really responded well to the talks," said volunteer Christopher Rael. "It's as much a retreat for the [MSU] community members as it is for the kids. Afterwards, we feel really on fire with the Holy Spirit."

Central to Sanctus is contemplating Christ's Passion.

"The retreat definitely focuses them on the real meaning of Easter," said Erin McCutcheon, who spoke on "everyday holiness." "You have to understand the suffering that was required to understand the joy of Easter. It offers hope because they know He did it for them. We focus on that. He didn't just suffer. He suffered for you because He loves you."

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