CLAY retreat helps young teens focus on how God wants to mold their lives

Participants in a CLAY retreat understand better how God wants to mold their lives.) Photo by Robert Linder on

Want to be molded at a CLAY retreat?

High school freshmen and sophomores interested in attending the one-day retreat Saturday, March 18, at St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Garden Plain may register at Click on Faith Formation and then on High School Ministries. Or register here. The event will be held from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. For more information, contact David Walker at [email protected] or 316-269-3940 ext. 118. Garden Plain is 20 miles west of downtown Wichita on U.S. 400.

It’s mesmerizing to watch a potter mold a spinning mound of clay.

Teresa Stewart believes its a beautiful metaphor for how Jesus Christ forms his people through the struggles and joys of life.
Stewart, who has been assisting with CLAY retreats for about eight years, said a potter is a part of a retreat because the teenagers can easily understand how molding clay relates to the formation of their eternal souls.

She said the retreat helps youth understand that the faith isn’t something that is just for adults.

“I love like showing kids that their faith doesn’t have to be something that their parents do and to do it because their parents do it. Or that their faith isn’t something that, once they get to a certain age, they can start thinking about. It’s something they can do and should do now. It’s something that can be deepened every day over time.”

That is facilitated at the retreat through small groups, she said. “They get to talk about what they’ve been going through in their lives.”

Fr. Setter also helps mold youth

After Fr. H Setter leads the group in an examination of conscience and a personal reflection, participants have an opportunity for the Sacrament of Reconciliation. They also participate in a Stations of the Cross.

In another concrete example for the youth, Stewart said, the young men and women taking part are invited to write a note on paper about a sin or something they are struggling with. “Then, one by one, we nail those notes to the cross.”

After confession, she added, the notes are burned to symbolize how a confessed sin is forgiven by God.

“There is a lot of fellowship that happens,” Stewart said. “You get to meet new people and you get to know acquaintances even better.”
The retreat helps participant see how God works in their lives and in others’ lives, and how to share that with others.

Fr. Setter, the pastor of St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Garden Plain and St. Mary Parish in Aleppo, said the retreat grounds those taking part.

“A CLAY retreat gives them an opportunity to look at the way God sees the world,” he said. “Sometimes we think about that after the fact, but it’s something we need to emphasize much earlier.”

The retreat is a day that puts social media on hold, Fr. Setter said, and helps those attending understand what God is trying to do in their lives.

Stewart is a member of St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Wichita.