Young adults: Teen reflects on her experience at TEC retreat

By Mariafer Gutierrez
Guest Columnist

Dying is a very joyous part of life that I had never encountered. By dying, I am referring to the fact that we must die from our sins in order to lead the life God has planned for us. I am a very active Catholic. I was born into this faith and I had never heard the phrase, “We must die every day.” 
Then I attended a life changing retreat. I was dead before TEC (Together Encountering Christ). I was broken, beaten and unholy. I did not want to attend TEC. I wanted to stay home and hang out with friends, rest and finish homework. Yet, something inside me pushed me to register. Little did I know, it was the burning desire I had within me for God. 
As I walked into the unknown retreat center, smiling faces surrounding me, as I sat down at an empty chair, I didn’t know what to expect from TEC. I only knew one other girl there and she wasn’t put into my group. I was lonely and afraid. As soon as everything settled down around me, our leader read a verse from the Bible: “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit.” (Jn 12: 24-26). 
This verse explains how I must die from my sins and renew my soul in order to live and walk in the footsteps of Christ. The grain of wheat falls to the ground, rots and dies. Once the grain has died, it can then bear the fruit. I am a grain of wheat. I am a single grain who must fall to the ground and die to bear my fruit. I must die from what is holding me back from leading a good, holy life. 
The retreat experience opened my eyes and my heart to a whole new life I have ahead of me. It taught me that letting go is hard, but with God we can accomplish anything. God is always beside me leading me into his light and love. During the retreat, my eyes were opened to the life that God has planned for me.
Nothing could have been more encouraging than being united with fellow teenagers through God. I had always believed I was in control of my own life, but I was wrong. It has always been God who is in control. Having participated in this amazing retreat, I now know how to live my life according to the will of God.
I also fully understand that TEC was an event God had always intended for me. He heard my yearning for him and he led me to it. My TEC family is large, exciting and full of many different people who touched my heart. Now I see that we all have an inner need for God and he wants us to want him. I thank God every day for the wonderful people he blessed me with at TEC to help me lead a holy life, as a single grain of wheat.
The next TEC Retreat will be held Jan. 16-18 at Eagle’s Wings Retreat Center in Burnet. The retreat is specifically designed for juniors in high school to young adults in their 20s and is focused on the Paschal Mystery of Christ. The cost for the weekend is $100 and includes two nights, meals and supplies. For more information, contact Jennifer Kodysz at (512) 949-2467 or jennifer-kodysz@austindiocese.org.