By: Luis Chacon
Province Coordinator for Volunteers
Saint Mary’s Parish and the Salesian Family Youth Center are a combined Youth Ministry operating under the leadership of CYM Miriam Hernandez. For the second year during Holy Week St. Mary’s hosted Pascua Juvenil ( Youth Lenten Retreat). The theme was “I Choose to be Holy” and was led by a young adult ministry Heaven Bound and other lay leaders of the parish. The goal of the Lenten Retreat is to promote in teens the call to Holiness through an encounter with the Risen Christ so that they may respond with joy and authenticity to God’s call.
More than 70 adolescents and young people gathered on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of Holy Week to learn, reflect and deepen their spiritual faith.
This retreat was organized by our good friends at Heaven Bound. Each night consisted of two talks, activities as well as praise and worship. On Monday night was based on holy Thursday “Love to Serve, Serve to Achieve Holiness”. A reflection was made on the biblical passage of the institution of the Eucharist and the washing of the feet took place with the help of the second-year confirmation candidates who will be confirmed on May 7th. This was the same group of teens that represented the disciples and whose feet were washed by Fr. Joseph Farias, SDB on Holy Thursday. At the end of the night, youth were asked to bring donations for our unhoused brothers and sisters living on Skid Row.
Tuesday night focused on Good Friday. The two talks were “There is no greater love than the one who gives his life for his friends” and “The Cross of Love”. The donations youth brought in were given to the Salesian Volunteers to be used to put together blessing bags. Things like canned goods their favorite snacks and clothing that were donated remind us that everyone has something to share with those who are less fortunate. Also on this night youth made cards to be delivered on Easter Sunday. These included words of encouragement, blessings, and best wishes.
Wednesday was the final night of the retreat and Heaven Bound leaders talked about Holy Saturday. The talks were “Get up! Take my hand and follow me” and “Be the Light for Others”. The teens learned about the liturgical meaning of Holy Saturday and did an activity to explain how they were called to be light for those around them, just as Jesus is the light that guides us.
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The Confirmation Program of Saint Mary’s Parish leads the Holy Week celebrations
This Holy Week in Saint Mary’s Parish has had a very special touch, the young people encouraged by Miriam Hernandez and Noe Cahuantzi have been an important part of the liturgical celebrations of the Holy Week for the faithful who attended the services.
Starting on Holy Thursday, the young people of the Confirmation Program who will confirm this year dressed up and participated in the washing of the feet in the liturgical celebration followed by a profession to the hall where they also accompanied at the blessed sacrament to the place for nocturnal Adoration.
On Good Friday, the Youth of the Confirmation Program acted out the Stations of the Cross. About 45 young people dressed up and participated in the Stations of the Cross. Youth represented Jesus, Mary, the roman soldiers, Veronica, the Jewish people who follow and witness the crucifixion. Each station took place a home. Members of the household set up a table with an image of that station and youth-led prayers in between stations. Luis Chacon led us in song and Fr. Joseph Farias led us in reflection.
Youth also attended and participated in the readings of the Easter vigil on Saturday night.
Concert “A Selfie with Jesus” Vol. 2
On Easter, Sunday Saint Mary’s Parish hosted the second Easter concert with the same title “A selfie with Jesus”. We were blessed to have the presence of great artists and those committed to the Evangelization of Families through the music ministry.
Heaven Sound, Grace Zone, and Jon Martin are some of the artists and preachers who have been present helping to celebrate Easter Sunday differently at Saint Mary’s Parish. The concert started at 6:00 PM with prayers and praises but also with pizza and hot dogs because this is the most important party for us as Christians, it is the party of the resurrection. The concert continued until almost 10:00 PM, but before finishing we had the opportunity of the Presence of the Blessed Sacrament among us led by Fr. Hector Franco, SDB.
Heaven Bound has already assisted in Saint Mary’s Church Youth Ministry for over two years and we continue to work together to bring the good news to youth and families in our community. If you missed out, don’t worry. Stay on the lookout for upcoming events like Heaven Bound Basketball Tournament, Sip & Paint Fundraiser, Pray for Life 2, and Heaven Bound 2022 Music Concert.