Ash Wednesday at St. Joseph’s Retreat Center

By: Johnny Martinez
St. Josephs Retreat Coordinator

Greetings Salesian family! Here at St. Joseph’s we started our Lenten journey with a jam
packed Ash Wednesday! We began by going out to East Los Angeles College to give Ashes and do Ash Wednesday services for the college kids that were walking by, it was a success as we had one of the young people come on our young adult retreat this weekend! (more on that next time!) Then, we had a beautiful Ash Wednesday service at 7 pm. We were joined by our beautiful 9:30 Mass community, the Salesian Cooperators, the SEARCH community and our young adult Agape Movement community as they were in spiritual preparation for their retreat.

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It was a powerful service as we meditated on the meanings of ashes, the waters of
Baptism, and the opportunity to convert our hearts to the Lord this Lenten season. The service was different because instead of Fr. Giving the ashes, we allowed the congregation to form a line, come up receive ashes from the person in front of them, and then give ashes to the person that came behind them. One parent shared how profound it was for her to receive ashes from her five year old daughter: “hearing my daughter tell me “repent from your sins and believe in the Gospel” moved me to tears”. The service then moved on to include a personal testimony by a man who the Lord saved through our outreach efforts to the homeless. This man was thirty years old, living under the Boyle bridge where we have our homeless community when I encountered him. No drug addictions, no illnesses, just down on his luck. We invited him to an adult retreat here at our center, the Lord touched his heart and is now living in his own room and started his job this week thanks to the help of our community. We give glory to God for this
and are happy to have him as part of our family! He came to share his story with our
community, to inspire the congregation on the power of the opportunity to turn away from your own path and turn to God.

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The night ended with a member of the Stations of the Cross group coming in to the
front of the altar, grabbing the Cross and walking out in silence as to say with actions: “Are you ready to carry your Cross this weekend?!”. We thank our community for the help in putting on this powerful Ash Wednesday service we ask for your prayers as we embark on this Lenten journey.

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