MYO Regional Retreat -- Philadelphia, PA

By Sr. Natalie Sayde Salameh

On the weekend of February 19, 20, and 21, the Maronite Servants of Christ the Light were on mission at St. Maron’s Parish in Philadelphia, PA, focusing on the theme of “Mercy” in honor of this Jubilee Year of Mercy.

Our mission weekend began with the regional MYO retreat on Friday night, which gathered approximately 60 youth from St. Maron’s, Philadelphia; St. Anthony of the Desert, Lawrence, MA; Our Lady Star of the East, Pleasantville, NJ; and St. Charbel’s, Newtown Square, PA.

Sr. Therese Maria began the MYO retreat by focusing especially on how the Father has shown each of us great mercy in sending us his only begotten Son to save and redeem us on the Cross, and encouraged the teens to think about how God manifests His mercy personally to them in their lives.

On Saturday morning, Sr. Therese Maria focused on the Corporeal and Spiritual Works of Mercy with the teens, especially during this time of Great Lent when we are encouraged to live out our faith in prayer, fasting and works of charity. In light of this discussion, the teens participated in a service project on Saturday morning where they cleaned the local Catholic Church, St. Cyprian, and got to hear an amazing choir practice. The teens were buzzing as they returned from St. Cyprian, describing how they had raked all the leaves, and how beautiful the outside of the Church looked, and of course, how they got to hear an African choir in action!

Also on Saturday morning, as Sr. Therese Maria was with the MYO, Mother Marla Marie was with the adults of the Parish, also helping them to focus on this Year of Mercy. Mother Marla Marie taught the adults the ancient way of praying with the Scriptures, that is, Lectio Divina or Divine Reading. Mother Marla Marie facilitated a Lectio Divina for the adults on this Sunday’s Gospel of the Prodigal Son.

On Saturday afternoon, the MYO participated in adoration and confession, where Sr. Therese Maria taught them and helped them through the four movements of prayer – (A) Adoration, (C) Contrition, (T) Thanksgiving, and (S) Supplication – ACTS.

During the evening on Saturday, the teens enjoyed themselves at RiverRink at Penn’s Landing (Ice Skating Rink). Even our very own Sr. Therese Maria put on a pair of skates and joined the kids on the ice. I enjoyed watching them maneuver on the ice and witnessed many a fall, but no broken bones thank God. The teens then headed back to St. Maron’s Hall for their hafle’.

On Sunday morning, the teens gave us some feedback on what aspect of the weekend they found most enlightening. Many loved adoration and confession, whilst others enjoyed the service project and having a chance to give back to the community. Many of the teens enjoyed being with one another and forming new and deeper friendships.
After Sunday’s Divine Liturgy, during which Mother Marla Marie, addressed the Congregation and told them a little about our mission, we had a chance to meet and greet the parishioners of St. Maron and visit their CCD classes.

In the evening on Sunday, we spent a night of meditation and reflection with the MYA of St. Maron’s. Sr. Therese Maria also taught the young adults Lectio Divina and facilitated a Lectio Divina also on this Sunday’s Gospel of the Prodigal Son. We followed a very fruitful night of recollection and prayer with a nice meal with the young adults.

Thanks be to God for a wonderful mission. We would like to thank Fr. Vincent Farhat, Pastor of St. Maron for his invitation to his parish and his support, presence and guidance all throughout the weekend, and his delightful crew of parish volunteers. It was a joy serving alongside them all.