By Natalie Salameh
From Monday, June 30 to Wednesday, July 2, 2014, the Maronite Servants of Christ the Light spent some time with 250 of our Maronite youth on their annual retreat at La Roche College in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Father Gary George, eparchial youth director, offered an outstanding retreat on the theme "We Believe," with a particular focus on the articles of our Catholic faith in the Nicene Creed.
On our first night the MYO, we were able to witness the healing power of the Mystery of Penance. I was inspired to see so many teens seeking healing and forgiveness, support and comfort in the Mystery. With Jesus present in our midst in the Holy Mysteries, we truly felt the presence of our Divine Physician as he helped our young teens find solace and closure. A good lesson for us all - never underestimate the healing power of confession.
Another important lesson the youth learned was the importance of the family, especially in the transmission of our faith. This was such a timely reminder for our youth, and a regular theme of our Holy Father, Pope Francis, who said during World Youth Day in Rio: “The family, whether we like it or not, is the foundation.” How true this is. The youth were encouraged whilst on their retreat to complete their family tree and to offer thanksgiving for the family that gave them their Maronite faith.
The last night we spent with the youth was truly a powerful sight, I had personally never seen anything like it. As the priests were blessing the youth, the youth formed a beautiful circle, with their arms wrapped around each other in what can only be described as a "circle of love" with Jesus present in the Holy Mysteries in the center. What a powerful witness to our faith! The Good Shepherd in the middle and the flock surrounding Him!
We were also fortunate to celebrate Divine Liturgy with the youth and our Maronite Bishops on several occasions. God bless the many people involved in facilitating and coordinating this year's national retreat. We look forward to next year!