ECHO probes gift of existence

    While the July 4th week is, for many, a time of barbeques and fireworks, 160 teens and young adults gathered this year at Camp Abbey in Covington for the third annual “ECHO: A Theology of the Body Camp for Teens,” organized by Dumb Ox Ministries.
    ECHO is a camp that dives into Blessed John Paul II’s teaching of “Theology of the Body.” It answers the questions in all of our hearts: “Who am I?” “What have I been created for? and “What do I do now?”
    We enriched our minds through daily talks on prayer, what it means to be a man or a woman created by God, vocations, love and life-giving relationships. We cultivated our own relationship with God through daily Mass and eucharistic adoration, and built friendships through swimming, hiking, sports and small group discussions.
    I had a peaceful and excited heart attending my second ECHO as young adult volunteer. Because of this, I was able to get to know people and really listen.
    While most participants hailed from Louisiana, eight other states were represented, as well as Mexico, Canada and Ireland. One night, I found myself looking at the camp as a whole and realizing that God was forming us into a generation of love, something our world so desperately needs. You could see it in the smiles and the small acts of service from everyone.
    “ECHO not only changed the way that I see everyone else, but also changed the way that I view myself as a child of God,” senior Brad Jouty said.
    Canadian Carly Weber, 17, commented on how “ECHO is a loving community where you can sense the unity of our faith with God. It completely enriches your spirit and will change your life forever. Definitely worth traveling 3,000 miles for.”
    Our last Mass together will be an experience that will always linger. Peace filled the chapel from the Eucharistic Prayer to the end of Mass. The homily called us to action as we were heading home, and music led us deeper into prayer.
    I cannot explain it, but I know everyone felt it. It seemed to be an outward sign of what was going on inside us all. Our minds accepted, believed and desired all that we learned from the talks. Our prayer lives had grown, and our friendships with one another were so pure and real.
    I believe all would agree that ECHO was a week for which we will always be grateful, as we all walked away as better people because of it.
    Information on ECHO 2013 can be found at Robert earned a theology degree at Our Lady of Holy Cross College in New Orleans. She works at the Woman’s New Life Center.

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