It happens to all of us. We come home from an amazing Steubenville weekend and life starts fading back to normal.

If the feelings go away, was it all for nothing?

Not at all!

How we react and internalize the message of Steubenville relates to the parable of the sower. Ask yourself “Where am I spiritually after this conference? How did the experiences of Steubenville impact me?”

The Parable of the Sower

I don’t have a Buzzfeed-like quiz to definitively determine “which seed are you?” You have to ask yourself these questions and decide for yourself. Also, it may be important to note that it can change for better or for worse. All of these examples applied to me at one point or another.

Read Jesus’ words below from Matthew 13 and ask yourself which seed describes your spirit after Steubenville.

“On that day, Jesus went out of the house and sat down by the sea.
Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat down, and the whole crowd stood along the shore.
And he spoke to them at length in parables, saying: “A sower went out to sow.
And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and birds came and ate it up.
Some fell on rocky ground, where it had little soil. It sprang up at once because the soil was not deep, and when the sun rose it was scorched, and it withered for lack of roots.
Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it.
But some seed fell on rich soil, and produced fruit, a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.
Whoever has ears ought to hear.”

“I Got Nothing Out of It”

In the parable of the sower, the seeds sown on the path were left exposed and unprotected because they stayed on the earth’s surface. None of them took root. None of them went deep enough. In the end, the birds took the seeds and there was never any trace of the seeds being there in the first place.

The seeds sown on the path might describe the Steubenville experience of those who say they “got nothing out of the weekend.” As the seeds did not take root on the path, the words of the speakers and the love of Christ shared at the conference may not have, for one reason or another, take root in their hearts.

If you feel like this describes you, don’t panic!

There are a number of factors that can contribute to this sentiment. Maybe you are hurting inside. Maybe you feel numb or guarded. Maybe past wounds are temporarily holding you back. No matter what the cause is, you are not destined to be a seed that falls and dies on the earth’s surface. You are destined for heaven.

I suggest spending some time reflecting on whatever it is that holds you back from Jesus. Spend quiet time in prayer once a week or start going to confession monthly. Over time, Jesus will soften your heart, heal your wounds, and draw you closer to Him.

“I Experienced a ‘Retreat High’ for a While”

Those seeds on the rocks sprouted quickly and vigorously grew for a short period of time. Soon after, however, they were scorched and dried up. They had no roots in the rocks that were able to sustain them and nourish them through the heat of the sun.

The seeds in the rocky soil might describe the Steubenville experience for those who experienced a “conference high.” They were excited during the conference and “sprang up” with energy and joy for the duration of the weekend. When they returned home, that “conference high” began to dissipate. Maybe they were without a support system to nourish them in times of distress. Maybe the Steubenville experience did not provide deep enough roots to sustain them. Whatever the reason, their joy during the conference faded when they got home.

If you feel like this describes you, remember this: feelings are no indicator of the value of your relationships. The level of commitment you are willing to contribute is what makes your relationships meaningful.

Make a commitment to pray the rosary every day, or pick one more day during the week to start going to Mass in addition to Sunday. Will these new habits feel good all the time? No. But that doesn’t matter. What matters is your level of commitment.

Also, if you don’t regularly attend a Catholic youth group, make a commitment to start going right away.

“I Loved the Conference, but My Friends are a Bad Influence on Me”

Those seeds sown among the thorns presumably took root. As the seed sprouted and grew, so too did the thorn bushes around it, until eventually the thorns crowded out the sprout and choked it.

These seeds may describe the experience for those who took home love, acceptance, peace, and the joy of Christ, but were eventually beaten down by life’s realities. They stuck to the commitments they made over the conference for a brief time before thorns like distractions, vices, old habits, and destructive people tore them down after a time.

If this describes you, please know that my prayers are with you. Sometimes, the biggest challenge after a retreat weekend is simply coming home.

My advice for you is to find some friends you met during Steubenville and form an accountability group. Also, as mentioned above, start attending a Catholic youth group as soon as possible if you don’t go to one already. We all need strong, Christ-centered relationships if we want our faith lives to survive.

You are who you hang out with.

“It Changed My Life Forever!”

The seeds on the soil have a happier ending in the parable. Perhaps they faced some of the same challenges as the other seeds. They sank deep to protect themselves against the birds. They had nourishment from their roots to refresh them during the hot sun. And they broke through any thorns or obstacles that tried to get in their way. They were resilient and produced fruit.

These seeds describe the experience for those who continuously shine as light for the world. They internalized experiences, they rooted themselves in the faith, they created support systems to sustain them, and overcame the obstacles in their way. They came home with a strong and resilient faith, stuck to their commitments, and their good works and evangelization is now bearing fruit for others.

Friends, I pray that the spirit of Steubenville was like the seeds sown on rich soil for you.

How To Keep the Spirit Alive Post-Steuby

No matter where you were during the conference, or how you felt while you were there, what’s important is where you go from here. You have the choice to decide which seed you are going to be. The keys to a healthy faith life are commitment, accountability, prayer, and sacraments.

We all received the priceless gift of Jesus while we were at Steubenville, and we are all called to be like the seed that fell on rich soil. Will there be challenges? Of course. Is there anything you can do about it? Yes!

Need some helpful and practical tips to keep your relationship with Jesus alive? Read this post about how to let Steuby actually change your life.

Do you have any tips of your own? Support this community and share your thoughts in the comments below.

Written by Drew Holtmann
Drew is an intern at the Office of Youth Ministry for the Archdiocese of St. Louis. He graduated from Creighton University in 2016 where he studied Theology and Secondary Education. He loves indie/alternative rock, Cardinals baseball, and afternoon naps.