The Maronite Servants of Christ the Light participated in the Maronite Youth Organization (MYO) National Workshop held on July 6th to July 11th at St. Vincent’s College in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. The workshop was coordinated and facilitated by Fr. Gary George, C. Ss.R, National Youth Coordinator.
The theme was “Christmas in July”, with a focus on the Maronite Liturgucal Season of “Happy Announcements” leading up to the Glorious Birth of Our Lord. Each day focused on a different “happy announcement”, which also included daily Divine Liturgy and lots of time for fun and sports.
Beginning with the Announcement to Zechariah, the theme of the first day was fear. The youth were encouraged to look at their own lives and journeys of faith and see where fear may be crippling their growth. As Jesus, present in the Holy Mysteries, was brought into the midst of the youth on that first night, they were encouraged to listen to his sweet voice telling them, “Be not afraid, I am always with you”.
The second day focused on the Announcement to Mary by the Angel Gabriel, and Mary’s visit to her cousin, Elizabeth. Fr. Gary encouraged the youth to use their imagination in thinking about just how Mary would have felt, as a young teenage girl, being asked to become the Mother of the world’s Savior? Mary said ‘yes’ without really knowing what she was in for, without really knowing how much her ‘yes’ would involve. Her trust in God was beyond measure. The youth were asked to consider how they can say ‘yes’ to God in their everyday lives. Some said “by praying more”, others said “by helping out more around the house”.
Not only did Mary say ‘yes’, but the next thing she did was run in haste to the hill country of Judea and share her gift of Jesus with her elderly cousin, Elizabeth. Mary made a complete gift of herself to everyone in need around her, and so the youth were encouraged to think about how they can give more of themselves to those in need, and the particular gifts they have received from God. That night, the youth were able to receive the gift forgiveness in the Mystery of Penance.
The third day of the Workshop focused on the Birth of St. John the Baptist and the Revelation to St. Joseph. The Birth of John the Baptist demonstrates the sheer joy that accompanies those who submit to the divine plan of God. Mother Marla Marie spoke to the youth about the joy of consecrated life, and the privilege of being able to serve God. On the night of the third day, the youth were able to experience the deep joy that comes from Christ’s healing presence in adoration, as each one was invited to come up and touch Jesus. It was a moving sight as each teen emerged from their encounter with Jesus deeply touched and unburdened.
The fourth day focused on the Genealogy of Jesus and His Glorious Birth. As mentioned by Fr. Rudi Wakim in his homily for the day, Jesus came from a long line of sinners, and was born in a humble stable that housed animals, and probably didn’t smell too good. Now why would the King of kings do that? To show us how much he loves us, and to redeem all that is sinful in us.
The Workshop concluded with a fun day for the youth at the local water park, “Idlewild”, and the Christmas Ball in the evening. God bless the efforts of all those involved in coordinating and assisting in this year’s Workshop.