A month of Joy, Crosses, and Hope

By: Johnny Martinez
St. Josephs Retreat Coordinator

During these trying times where we are being called to trust in the Lord and practice physical distancing and social connection via other mediums, we would like to share with you our month in review, and through that, our voice. We know that a simple word from a loved one has the power to bring consolation and peace, we speak and look forward to hearing your voice in this InTouch.

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This month has been one of joys, difficult crosses to bear, and overall hope and trust in our loving Abba. We began the month by completing our third young adult retreat, Agape #3 Feb 28-March 1. It was another blessed weekend full of joy, healing, and encounter with Jesus Christ. We were blessed to see how the Lord is adding to the team, we began with a team of eight and had twenty two servers this retreat. Many of them came from far for the seven practices, we had college students driving from San Diego, Riverside, West Los Angeles, all coming together to give back what they received. The young man who we shared that gave his testimony: “I used to believe in science now I want to follow Jesus” came every week from UCR to practice and together with another member of the core team, Ruben Martinez, brought two more of their friends from UCR who similarly had not grown up in the faith but were deeply touched by the retreat. Our next adventure was one that warmed our heart. We have three weekends this year where we are running our own Salesian confirmation retreat programs. These are overnight retreats done in our main facility as we are moving our center in the direction of using it to do our Salesian ministry to the young! We were so excited and happy to share that they were a total and utter successful blessing! We had St. Monica’s confirmation program from Friday to Sunday and Our Lady of Guadalupe from Santa Barbara Saturday to Sunday March 6-8 weekend. The teams helping Fr. Paul, Br. Khoa, our staff, Ashley, Monica, Johnny and many help from musician Luis Noreaga, Salesian Cooperators and St. Joseph’s 9:30 am community, Misioneros in the kitchen, our youth community coming to do skits for the teens and our Agape group coming to do some activities and even some top secret fashion shows! It was a wonderful blessing to see our center filled with young people that were encountering the Lord, and it felt great to have our house use for our mission! We had two more weekends scheduled for a total of 10 Confirmation overnight retreats this year.

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Unfortunately because of the Coronavirus the next weekend, March 13-15 was postponed and totally changed our whole landscape. Our offices are closed until March 31st, but we hope to be able to reschedule the three groups that were coming for overnight facilitated retreats. It is safe to say that the Coronavirus has affected all of our lives in every way, we here at St. Joseph’s are trying to adjust for our mission does not end. We are trying ways to adjust to continue the mission of Jesus, we are having agape community via zoom, Fr. Paul has Livestream a private Mass on Saturday night, we are offering our community the Spiritual Exercises. We have been inspired and filled with hope at the response of our faithful community who is doing every to stay connected. These are moments of opportunity for us to come together, we are glad to see and join in our Salesian Youth Movement virtual Rosary today March 24th at 7pm. During these times we are reflecting and reminded of the beauty of the simple things in life, the things that we take for granted like a simple hug, a simple meeting for lunch, all of the small things that we take for granted we are now looking forward to. These moments are moments for us to work on our own friendship with the Lord, and to anticipate the day where we can physically hug again with hope, until then let us find other ways to embrace ourselves, support, and love each other. One in prayer and spirit Salesian family.

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