Steubenville – A weekend of ‘rekindling everything you feel you’ve been losing’
by Becky Berreth
What is the best part of a Steubenville retreat? If you ask the students from St. Joseph Church in Spearfish the answer is simple. Adoration.
“Adoration was my favorite part because there were thousands of us in a big room with an insane number of priests, and we were all together and quiet,” explained junior Tullulah Kelly. “They were bringing around the monstrance and people started dropping like flies. People were having these moments and it was really cool to watch. You felt very safe. It was unreal. It was not normal adoration.”
“It was two-and-a-half hours from the time the priest was carrying Jesus in until benediction,” agreed sophomore Sevana Thompson. “It was an emotional rollercoaster. I was bawling until after he was leaving and even then, afterwards our group had a little talk and we were crying for another 20 minutes.”
The Steubenville Summer Youth Conference is a pilgrimage for the youth grades 9-12 and is held in 25 cities across the nation. Youth participate in Eucharistic adoration, confession, Mass, and listen to speakers and witness testimonies.
Each year the diocese takes 2-3 busses of students from parishes around the diocese to the summer conference.
“It’s a beautiful experience,” explained senior Jadyn Johnson. “Sometimes we aren’t at our top faith or connecting with God and this is the weekend of just rekindling everything that you feel like you’ve been losing. Just firing up your faith again. Every time I go to Steubenville, oh my gosh. I’m on a Catholic high.”
“Covid shut me down and I became very lukewarm about religion,” agreed Thompson. “After Steubenville I was like ‘this is Jesus. This is amazing.’”
Travel time to and from the event is also part of the experience, all three of the girls agreed.
“Everyone becomes fast friends. There is nothing holding us back from talking and just being with each other,” explained Johnson. “We all let our guard down and experience everything together. We cry together. Share everything that happens. There is never a moment when we are keeping a secret from each other.”
This year, forty students from Spearfish, and St. Paul Parish, Belle Fourche, will travel to Washington state for Steubenville North — ten more students then attended in 2021.
“It’s really a testament to the older kids following through with that commitment and bringing in the younger kids,” said Taylor Linn, director of youth ministry for St. Joseph Parish. “They included the younger kids and brought them along with them so they could follow Christ and continue to follow along with them afterwards.”
To pay for the trip, the youth group has several different fundraisers throughout the year including caramel roll fundraisers, bake sales, and “Dinner with the Priests” raffle where they raffle a multi-course meal with wine parings with Msgr. Michael Woster and Fr. Zane Pekron.
The biggest fundraiser of the year is the parish feast day celebration on March 19. Mass with Bishop Peter Muhich begins at 5:30 p.m. followed by a lasagna dinner prepared by the Knights of Columbus, a dessert auction and bingo.
The students attending Steubenville will serve and cleanup the meal. The desserts for the auction are provided by some of the students and are sold by an auctioneer. All proceeds from the dinner and auction benefit the students.