An MYO/MYA Regional Retreat was held on 16 March at Our Lady Star of the East Church in Pleasantville, NJ. The day was facilitated by the Maronite Servants of Christ the Light and a great team of volunteers who helped the youth reflect on their call to holiness.
“Rejoice and Be Glad” was the theme, based on Pope Francis' recent Apostolic Exhortation, reminding us all to seek holiness. We were blessed to have among us His Excellency, Bishop Gregory Mansour, who was also one of the keynote speakers.
The retreat brought together 150 teens, young adults, and chaperones from the following parishes: St. John Paul II, Sleepy Hollow, NY; Our Lady of Lebanon Cathedral, Brooklyn, NY; St. Sharbel, Somerset, NJ; Our Lady Star of the East, Pleasantville, NJ; and St. Maron, Philadelphia, PA. We also had the good help of several pastors: Fr. Kamil El-Choufeiti, Fr. Simon El-Hajj, and Fr. Vincent Farhat.
Throughout the day, the youth enjoyed several activities, prayerful communion with God, and much fun. We had two different presentations for the MYO and MYA. Bishop Gregory spoke to both groups at separate times on discernment and the gift of and obstacles to holiness. Fr. Simon El-Hajj spoke to the MYA on needs, goods, and power in relation to our call to holiness. Fr. Vincent Farhat spoke to the MYO on what holiness looks like in real life.
Father Vincent showed a moving video of a young Iraqi girl who had lost her home to ISIS. The young girl forgave her enemies and prayed for them. She was a beautiful example of holiness. The morning and afternoon sessions included small group discussions, which focused on hearing God’s voice amidst the many voices of today, our relationship with God and the Holy Spirit, and the process of discernment in sifting through negativity or toxicity in our lives.
In the afternoon, we had an hour of Eucharistic Adoration and Confession. We had priests stationed around the Church hearing confessions. The day concluded with Divine Liturgy, dinner, and a dabke party. We would like to thank Fr. Kamil El-Choufeiti, Camellia Nammour, and the parish and volunteers of Our Lady Star of the East Church for hosting this spiritual event and for their outstanding service and hospitality.