More than 1,000 youths gather in Emmitsburg for Mount 2000

By Angela Smith
Special to the Review
EMMITSBURG – Sydney Campbell, a 17-year-old parishioner of St. Louis in Clarksville, had participated in other retreats in the past, but none quite like this year’s Mount 2000.
She and a group of five other students from her parish joined more than 1,000 peers for the annual retreat for high schoolers, held on the campus of Mount St. Mary’s University Feb. 5-7. The Mount has been hosting the retreat each year since 1995.
“It surprised me to be surrounded by so many people of faith, most of whom were my own age,” Campbell said.
Participants came from dioceses across the East Coast, from Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, West Virginia, Connecticut and Washington, D.C., to grow in faith and better understand their place in the church. They spent the jam-packed weekend meeting with small groups, worshipping and participating in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.
“My favorite part of the retreat was the exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and adoration,” Campbell said. “I’ve never seen anything move such a large group of people. It was a very emotional experience. I began crying, but there were people there who immediately hugged me and comforted me even though we were with mostly strangers in the same room.”
This year, the retreat focused on identity, and participants sported shirts with a quote from St. John Paul II: “We are the sum of the Father’s love for us and our real capacity to become the image of His son.”

Young people from across the East Coast participated in Mount 2000 at Mount St. Mary’s University in Emmitsburg Feb. 5-7. (Angela Smith/Special to the Review)

Featured speakers included Father Sean Kilcawley of the Diocese of Lincoln, Neb., and Sister Rose Marie Timmer, a Religious Sister of Mercy of Alma.

Second pre-theology seminarian, Sean O’Brien from the Diocese of Savannah, Ga., witnessed members of his small group grow in their faith, just in the brief time they were on the retreat. 

“Today, young adults face a lot of criticism and confusion when it comes to what makes them who they are,” O’Brien said. “When Father Kilcawley spoke, he emphasized what it means to have God’s love for you be your identity, which is really important for participants to understand. This helps reaffirm that they are loved by God and that this is enough.”
In his Feb. 7 homily at the closing Mass, Baltimore Archbishop William E. Lori said he hoped participants will walk away from the weekend knowing God loves them personally.

“His mercy is powerful,” he said. “It overcomes our sins and can change us. Let his mercy touch your life. If you are truly convinced God loves you deeply, personally and everlastingly, your life won’t be the same.”

The archbishop’s homily was followed by a “vocation call,” during which youths discerning a religious vocation stood and were recognized.
Mount St. Mary’s University President Simon P. Newman also spoke before the close of the retreat, joining participants at Mass with his wife and daughters. Attending Mass together as a group, he said, “is a wonderful way to experience the communion Christ intended for his church.”
“It is through this sharing, this coming together as a family, that we become enriched by the love of Christ so we can push away fear and boldly pursue the life’s purpose that Christ intended for us,” he said.

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Catholic Review

Catholic Review

The Catholic Review is the official publication of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.