Quest helps teens better understand family, friends

Youth participate in an activity at a Quest retreat at St. Mary Parish in Grinnell in this file photo. Quest is an overnight retreat for freshmen and sophomores to learn more about loving themselves, God and others.

By Barb Arland-Fye

Participating in a Quest retreat last year inspired Robbie Menner, 17, in his faith journey and helped him to better understand how family, friends and others are feeling, he says.

Now the member of St. Mary Parish in Grinnell is looking forward to being a teen leader at this year’s Quest retreat, scheduled for March 7-8 at Immaculate Conception Parish in Colfax.

“Quest is an overnight retreat for freshmen and sophomores in high school that helps students to focus on loving themselves, loving others and loving God. It’s an opportunity to get away from the regular routine, meet new people, talk about important issues, and have fun,” says Pat Finan, faith formation and youth ministry coordinator for the Diocese of Davenport.

“I think it’s an important part of the beginning high school years, especially for people who are doing a lot in the church, or are hoping to, or even those who aren’t,” says Robbie, who also serves on the Diocesan Youth Ministry Committee.


The enthusiasm Robbie and other teenagers have for Quest is gratifying to Crystal DeNeve, the faith formation director at St. Mary Parish in Grinnell who leads Quest retreats for the Grinnell Deanery. (Parishes in Brooklyn, Colfax, Grinnell, Knoxville, Melcher, Newton, Oskaloosa, Pella and Victor comprise the Grinnell Deanery).

DeNeve has been involved in Quest for about 10 years. Her son, Brett, now a college junior, made his first Quest retreat as a high school freshman. He returned each year afterward to assist on the team, and he and his mother have given a talk together at Quest.

Each retreat averages about 25 to 30 students in the Grinnell Deanery, says DeNeve. “They’re excited and want to come, but sometimes extracurricular activities get in the way. It’s a sacrifice for them — and some do give up a basketball game or practice — my own son gave up some of that just to be a part of (Quest),” she added.

This is the first year Quest will be held in Colfax instead of Grinnell. The Colfax parish has a new gathering center, which Quest organizers want to celebrate, and a change in location is an opportunity to reach out to students in other towns, DeNeve says.

“I think the main reason I like doing Quest is that the kids get a chance to look at themselves and see that they really are good, and they see how they can love others. And they also take a look at how their parents love them and how they love their parents.”

Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Bettendorf will be welcoming as many as 30 candidates to a Quest retreat scheduled Feb. 28-March 1 at the parish.

“It’s a good weekend where they can relax and get to know other people from other parishes,” says Joyce Kloft, the parish’s youth minister. She’s been involved with Quest for about six years. The attendees talk about relationships, participate in games, and attend reconciliation and Mass.

Some candidates from previous Quest retreats volunteer to serve on the team for subsequent retreats — and recruit younger teens to participate, Kloft says.

“Those who have made (a Quest retreat) are excited about getting other ones to come.”

“It’s a fun retreat,” DeNeve says. “They get to hang out and be themselves. They don’t have to worry about who they are at school. At a retreat, they get to find out who they really are.”

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