Brother Martin and Mount Carmel Students Host College Retreat – Clarion Herald
Mount Carmel Academy senior Olivia Edler said she knew God was calling her to share her story when she was asked to give a testimony to 97 sixth and seventh graders at a retreat in college in St. Cletus on the theme “Uniquely Me”.
“I wanted young children to know that God made each of them unique,” Edler said. “I was hoping they would realize that they all have gifts that God has given them, so they won’t deprive the world of glorious gifts.”
She was among the Student Ambassadors of Mount Carmel Academy and Brother Martin who gave the retreat.
Edler said his goal was to find out how each person has different gifts. She told middle schoolers she didn’t understand her own leadership skills until her grandmother was diagnosed with breast cancer and her aunt kidney failure, and she gave up sports to be with her family. . She visited her aunt in intensive care every night, praying the Rosary, hoping for her recovery. She died in hospital after 145 days. Her grandmother also lost her battle with cancer. Edler said she began to wonder if God was even there.
When Adler gave up the sport at Mount Carmel when her family needed her more, other doors began to open. She joined Teens for Life to advocate for babies who have no voice and Mount Carmel Cubs Against Destructive Decisions to promote intelligent decision-making among students. Adler is also an altar server captain.
“Giving this talk was very enriching because I was able to show the children how important each of them is.”
She used characters from the movie “Encanto,” which means “charm” in Spanish, to highlight how God gave each person different gifts because “He has a plan for each of us. Some of us are better at dancing than others. Having these differences does not make the girl or boy sitting next to you better or worse, because we are all equal in the sight of God. God has given everyone special qualities and a light to shine in the world. We should never obscure our light to others because we must stay true to who we are. Mirabel feels like an outcast with no “gift”, but what she doesn’t realize is that everything the world has a different gift. Sometimes it might not be as flashy as the Madrigal’s, which can control the weather or talk to animals, but that doesn’t mean you’re not special.
Edler repeated a quote attributed to Saint Catherine of Siena, when she told young people “to be what God wanted you to be and you will set the world on fire”. Saint Catherine doesn’t want to cause a ruckus by starting fires around the world, Edler said. It means to be the person God created you because God created each of you for a purpose.
“As sixth and seventh graders, you might be thinking, ‘Well, I don’t know why God made me the way I am.’ God created you so the world could benefit from your gifts, so don’t deprive others of the gifts God has given you. No one is perfect.” She stressed that setbacks will happen, but so will opportunities to rebound.
Jeanne Rachuda, Student Ambassador facilitator, said the retreat was college-appropriate, drawing inspiration from MCA retreats.
“We wanted to create a meaningful, age-appropriate Catholic experience,” she said.