May 1, 2023 | Local News, Young Adult
Fr. Stephen Van Lal Than

​The group who participated in The Journey: A Young Adult Hike Retreat, which took place in March 2023. COURTESY OF CHARLIE HARDESTY

‘In walking, it is solved’

Young adult hike retreat relies on prayer and each other to complete 24-mile journey


On Friday, March 24, 11 young adults from our diocese gathered at St. Henry Parish in Aurora for the start of The Journey: A Young Adult Hike Retreat, hosted by the Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry. Young adult ministry encapsulates the age range of 18-39, so the attendees ranged from recent college graduates to married couples with young children. Each individual had varying levels of connection with one another, from strangers to lifelong friends. The theme of the retreat, Solvitur Ambulando, is a Latin phrase attributed to St. Augustine which roughly translates to “In walking, it is solved.”

On Friday evening, retreatants spent time going over logistics, sharing why they signed up, and prayerfully reflecting on their intentions for the retreat. The intentions chosen became what each hiker “carried” with them through their hike, symbolized by a blessed handheld cross given to each hiker. The next morning the 12 hikers, Fr. Gary Clark, and one of the trip leaders, Danny May, packed up and headed to Smith Bay to begin their 12-mile trek to Sugar Bay Campground. Thoughtful conversation, individual prayer, and enjoying trail snacks were occasionally interrupted by encountering fallen trees that needed to be navigated around, as well as elevated creek waters to cross. However, the beauty of God’s creation did not cease; blooming redbuds, moss-covered tree roots, and the occasional bald eagle highlighted the path walked. The obstacles encountered by the group pushed them to work together creating a greater sense of camaraderie.

Meg Marrow from Paducah and Rosendo Lopez from Owensboro laugh while taking a break during The Journey: A Young Adult Hike Retreat in March 2023. RILEY GREIF | WKC

Hikers arrived at Sugar Bay in the late afternoon, set up camp, spent time in prayer, and participated in a vigil Mass celebrated by Fr. Clark. The trip leaders graciously prepared dinner for the group allowing them to rest their tired bodies. Around the campfire that evening, the hikers continued to get to know one another through conversation and playing Mafia, a game many had fond memories of playing in youth group growing up, and making s’mores. The next morning, this time led by group leader, Charlie Hardesty, hikers set out for another 12 miles to Golden Pond where their journey would be finished. With soreness and a few blisters from the day before, the group relied a bit more on each other and prayer to complete the miles before them.

At the completion of the hike, the group gathered to debrief and share about their experience. Sentiments of gratitude were expressed by many for the encouragement and service shown to them by the leaders and fellow hikers. Several stated that they could not have done it on their own. Others shared how they experienced God’s presence during the retreat: in the silence, conversation, Mass, and creation. Those who participated had experienced some level of Solvitur Ambulando and shared that they expect to discover the fruits of the retreat given by God for months to come. The Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry plans to host The Journey: A Young Adult Hike Retreat, again in October 2023.

For more information about this retreat and other diocesan young adult opportunities, contact Charlie Hardesty at [email protected].

Riley Greif is the digital media specialist for the Office of Communications in the Diocese of Owensboro.

Fr. Gary Clark, pastor of St. Francis de Sales Parish in Paducah, celebrates the Saturday evening vigil Mass for the participants of The Journey: A Young Adult Hike Retreat, which took place in March 2023. RILEY GREIF | WKC

Originally printed in the May 2023 issue of The Western Kentucky Catholic.

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Publisher |  Bishop William F. Medley
Editor |  Elizabeth Wong Barnstead
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