By Sr. Natalie Sayde Salameh
A dynamic group of over 100 teens from several parishes were in attendance including a great crew of adult advisors. The parishes in attendance included, St. Maron’s in Philadelphia, along with their beloved Pastor, Fr. Vincent Farhat, who offered daily Liturgy; Our Lady Star of the East in Pleasantville, New Jersey; St. Charbel’s in Somerset, New Jersey; Our Lady of Purgatory in New Bedford, Ma; St. George in Rhode Island; St. Anthony of the Desert in Fall River, Ma; St. Anthony’s in Lawrence, Ma; Our Lady of Mercy in Worcester, Ma, and Our Lady of the Cedars, Boston.
The theme of this year’s retreat was “Mercy is Born!”, with a special focus on our Blessed Mother as the servant and mother of mercy Incarnate.
Over the two days, the teens participated in a variety of different events and activities. Of course, this included adoration and confession. God bless the Maronite priests who serve the above parishes that came to offer the Mystery of Penance to the youth. We had a number of different icebreakers, which buoyed the youth in a frenzy of excitement, among them was unwrapping layer upon layer of a Saran wrapped gift.
Friday night concluded on a festive note with a bonfire, roasting marshmallows and socializing, in the crisp air, with cookies, cupcakes, assorted candy and hot chocolate.
There was no better place to prepare for Christmas than the La Salette Shrine with their famous display of countless miniature lights and catechetical displays which switch on at 5pm everyday during the Christmas season. On Saturday evening, the teens made their way to the Shrine for the blessing of the Manger and the switching-on of the lights. They had some free time to explore the vast display of lights. The evening ended with lots of fun which included pizza and a dabke party.
Over the course of the weekend, many of the youth expressed their joy at having made so many new friends, at having this opportunity to bond with God and one another, and at being free to just be themselves and have fun.