What a joy it can be to spend time with God and enjoy the great outdoors at the same time. One such opportunity to do so is through Peak Encounter Ministries, an organization that provides hiking, tubing, zip lining, stargazing and more outdoor excursions while encountering God in his creation.
Heather Makowicz founded Peak Encounter in 2017. She wanted everyone in the group, mostly in their 20s and 30s, to engage their mind, body and spirit while developing a personal relationship with God who created them in his own image and likeness.
“I hoped that connecting Scripture themes to both adventure-based and contemplative activities would create an atmosphere for each individual to encounter God, leading through the beauty of nature,” said Makowicz.
Since Peak Encounter’s founding it has become incorporated as an organization. In addition to Makowicz as founder and president, it includes a board of directors. Dave Makowicz, Heather’s husband, serves as vice president and vice chairman, making it a family affair. Secretary Natalie Murray, Abigail Gorman and Norbertine Father Francis Danielski, spiritual adviser, make up the rest of the board.
By 2019 Peak became an approved Catholic nonprofit 501c3 organization. Later that year and into the early part of 2020, several people joined the all-volunteer team. That includes a Strategic Leadership Team that helps implement many operational needs. There is also a four-person Retreat Leadership Team. While Heather Makowicz was the lone member of the group initially, it grew to include a total of 15 volunteers.
“We have been expanding and improving on our offerings since then,” said Heather Makowicz.
Without its volunteers, these almost monthly events would not be possible. Planning the logistics for a function means contacting the venue as well as integrating the event onto the website, Facebook and the monthly newsletter to subscribers.
For each retreat, a Scripture-based theme is selected that connects to that particular experience. Everything is then put together on the registration portal. After implementing the retreat itself, Peak follows up with its retreatants to develop a consistent format. There are plenty of moving parts behind the scene.
Peak is always looking ahead toward the future. Later this month, its board will meet to integrate SMART goals into the overall strategic plan. It plans to reach out to other young adult groups as well as retreat venues to see how it may be able to support them through its own offerings.
“We hope to have a diversity of events each month, depending on the level of engagement each participant wishes to pursue,” said Heather Makowicz. “Additionally we continue to seek and consider young adults who believe in our mission and who we hope to mentor and bring them alongside us to be those future leaders.”
Peak Encounter Ministries has several events planned for the upcoming months. One is an “Outdoor Contemplative Retreat: The Beatitudes,” a retreat for young adults on Friday, Nov. 6 from 9 a.m. to 12 noon at Malvern Retreat House.
It follows an Oct. 3 event for women 18 years of age and older who honored the Blessed Mother on “Walk the Path of Mary: A Pilgrimage in God’s Creation Retreat,” also held at Malvern Retreat House.
“May others catch the motto that it is through creation, the Creator and the created meet … nature as an icon (the God who created us) and not as an idol (an end in itself),” said Heather Makowicz.
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