UP Catholic 02 05 2016 E Edition Page 2

2 February 5, 2016 THE U.P. CATHOLIC YOUTH ENCOUNTER www.upcatholic.org Youth Encounter movement prospers faith, friendships BY JAMIE CARTER THE U.P. CATHOLIC Over the years, the Youth Encounter Christ (YEC) movement in the Diocese of Marquette has led hundreds of young adults closer to Christ through retreat weekends and monthly follow-up gatherings. Many of the participants have found YEC to be a tremendous stepping stone in their faith and a place to network with other young Catholics. For Jacob Allen of Mar- quette and Becky Diercks of Iron Mountain, the movement has influ- enced their lives, even years after. Youth Encounter was the start of my faith. After that weekend I had such a deep, personal relationship with Jesus, said Allen who found the Catholic Church by attending a YEC weekend. Diercks added, Youth Encounter helped me to know that I was not alone at all, my broth- ers and sisters in Christ are here for me. It also made me realize that God is always with me. YEC is a retreat program targeting young adults ages 16-20 of all Christian faiths. Youth who have gone through the retreats previously run the weekend. It is designed to allow the youth to share their faith, witness the love of Christ and to appreciate a new way of living out their religious beliefs. Allen, originally from Kingsford and cur- rently a sophomore at Northern Michigan University, attended YEC during his senior year of high school through an invitation from a friend. What really sparked me to go is I wanted to learn and I had a real deep desire to learn about Jesus and the faith. According to Allen, he grew up in the Meth- odist faith, but was missing the personal relationship with Christ. I was weak. My relationship with Jesus was never personal. It never felt real. During his YEC weekend, Allen really learned that personal encounter with Christ and experienced the Catholic Mass for the first time. I felt such a deep sense of love from God. A love from him that was shown to me through the people there and directly at Mass, along with his graces and his forgiveness. Allen stated that after YEC he was able to put Gods will in front, to follow him and for him to rule my life. It has been a lot easier to listen to the Holy Spirit. Through his openness to Gods will and the Holy Spirit, Allen entered the Catholic Church during Easter Vigil last year. He credits his YEC experience and the friends he has made through the movement to prospering his faith. Youth Encounter has given me so much strength and was really the beginning of my whole relationship with Jesus. It has been easier to seek goodness, to seek the Church, to seek the friends that go to Church and to build myself upon those things. The lasting friendships is one of the as- pects of YEC that has had a large impact on Diercks, age 21 of St. Mary and St. Joseph in Iron Mountain. Diercks attended her YEC COURTESY PHOTO Becky Diercks (second row, far left) takes a photo with other Youth Encounter participants during a monthly follow-up in Iron Mountain last fall. COURTESY PHOTO Jacob Allen brings up the gifts during the Easter Vigil Mass at St. Michael Parish in Marquette. Allen came into full communion in the Catholic Church last year after being introduced to the faith through a Youth Encounter retreat. SEE YOUTH ENCOUNTER, PAGE 5

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