At first, when Father James told me about Saint Michael’s Conference, I was a little bit skeptical. “A religious camp?” I thought, “That’s going to be so boring!” I hesitantly agreed to attend the Conference at the end of July, not thinking much of it. When the Saturday before the week of the camp rolled around I was not looking forward to it. I thought that I was going to be bored out of my mind! When my family arrived at The Holy Family Retreat Center in West Hartford, Connecticut, the home of the Conference, we were instantly welcomed at the registration desk by Olivia James, Father James’s daughter. We were led upstairs and I was settled in for the week with the other Junior Girls. High school-aged conferees are called “Juniors” and college-aged conferees are called “Seniors”.
Within the week I began making many new friends, young and old. I enjoyed my classes, and had many interesting conversations with the staff members. My Big Sister, Catherine Warner, a conferee from Saint John’s Church in Savannah, Georgia, told me what to expect in the five days I would be at the Conference, and made sure I had everything I needed. Each night we had an evening activity, usually consisting of Father McKinnon dressing up as something strange, or making us laugh.
Everything was going smoothly until I learned there was confessions would be heard on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday night. I knew I wasn’t required to go to Confession, but I knew I would regret it if I failed to attend. I soon learned that many other of my fellow first-year conferees were going to go to Confession, which made it even harder not to go. Finally, after a conversation in the hallway with Olivia and Catherine, I decided to go Thursday night. And afterward I felt refreshed, almost like a weight had been lifted off my chest.
By the end of the week I was sad to be leaving all the new friends I had made at the Conference. I couldn’t believe that the week had gone by so fast. I had learned so many knew things at the Conference that I knew would be valuable life lessons, but most of all I had learned to never judge something without knowing what it is like.
Upcoming Second-year Conferee
Saint Michael’s Conference is an annual week-long event for young people ages 14-21. For more information about the Conference, see Fr. James or visit the website: https://www.saintmichaelsconference.com/.