On Sunday April 3rd, St. Paul’s Church in New York’s East Harlem held its first “Parish Youth Retreat.” We planned the day as a special retreat for those young people who are helpers in the Religious Education Program and active participants in our girls’ group, as well as for a few of the students from this year’s confirmation class. Thirty high school students (with a few exceptional eighth-graders allowed) took part in the retreat.
Fr. Claudio Stewart, IVE, pastor of St. Paul’s, gave the first talk on the “Principle and Foundation,” which is a central point in the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola. The talk explained to the youth why we were created and what is the meaning of our life: “namely to praise, love and serve God so as to save our soul.” Father’s talk included a great power point and videos clips that elaborated on his points. Then Father exposed the Blessed Sacrament and the youth had time to pray in the presence of Our Lord.
For the second formation point, the girls and boys separated and heard chastity talks given by Amber Loosbrock and Jesse Campbell, two young adults who are friends of our Religious Family. We then went back up to the Church for the Holy Rosary and Confessions. In the evening, we showed them the IVE Youth Festival video, ate pizza and played games: Catholic Jeopardy, basketball, volleyball and races. At the end of the night, we gave out prizes and t-shirts we had made especially for them.
We give thanks to God for the many graces given to our youth at this retreat. We also thank Father Claudio for his talk and generous time with the youth, and to Amber and Jesse for their enthusiasm and joy which they shared with our young people.