St. Paul’s Church in East Harlem had the honor to host a retreat day for the Junior Legion of Mary on July 2, the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Eighty-five children and youth invited from throughout the Archdiocese attended the retreat that began with praying the Holy Rosary together in the main church. The children and youth were then divided into groups by age for the morning and afternoon sessions of formation talks. Fr. Claudio Stewart, IVE, pastor of St. Paul’s, addressed the teenagers on the St. Ignatius of Loyola’s “Principle and Foundation,” the truth of why we are here and how we should live according to God’s plan.

Two visiting sisters spoke to the younger Junior Legion of Mary members. Sr. Assumption (Philadelphia) and Sr. Conforto (Connecticut) gave talks on “The Three White Things” (the Pope, Mary and the Eucharist) and “We are called to be Saints!” (the universal call to holiness). In the afternoon session, Sr. Madre del Señor gave a talk to the children on “St. Dominic Savio,” a child saint, and Mother Lumen Christi spoke to the teenagers on vocations to the priesthood and religious life. Following the morning talks, the children and youth played some competitive games and especially enjoyed the water games outside—a good break on a hot day in the city!

After lunch all together, each group returned to hear their second formation talk. Later in the afternoon, we played an exciting game of “Catholic Jeopardy,” using a power point and the big screen and then each group had time to work on various arts and crafts activities about different aspects of our faith. Prizes were awarded and everyone was treated to ice cream as a special snack. All the children and youth then returned to the main church for Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and Confessions.

The retreat for the Junior Legion of Mary closed with the celebration of the Holy Mass. We give thanks to God for this wonderful opportunity to host such a joyful event for the Archdiocese of New York. We thank all those who helped us organize it, especially the catechists, parents and youth assistants of St. Paul’s Church. We pray for the holiness and generosity of all the children and youth who participated in the day. To Jesus Through Mary! Viva Jesus! Viva Maria!

Sisters at St. Paul’s Church in Harlem