From June 11th to 14th we received ninety-two girls and youth (ages 9 – 17) for Girls’ Summer Days (GSD) at St. Patrick’s Retreat House in Cairo, NY. The girls came from all different parts of our Province: Washington, DC, Avondale (PA); Brooklyn (NY), Harlem (NY), Bridgeport (CT) and even Peterborough (ON) in Canada.
The liturgy of these days fit perfectly with our theme “Blessed are the Pure of Heart, for they shall see God” since we were able to celebrate together the Purest Hearts that lived on this earth: the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
This year we also decided to offer up all our activities for our Christian brothers and sisters living in the midst of war and persecution in the Middle East. The team patrons all came from the Middle East: St. Catherine of Alexandria, St. Mary of Egypt, St. Rafqa from Lebanon, and the two newly canonized saints, St. Mary of Jesus Crucified and St. Marie Alphonsine Ghatta, both from the Holy Land.
Every night we read aloud a chronicle (short news) from our missionary sisters and priests serving in Syria, Egypt, and Iraq—especially mission stories that included children. When we took the older girls on a hike to a local water fall some of them found it a bit difficult, but instead of complaints we only heard them say: “For the Christians in the Middle East!”
We began each day with a “wake up song” and the prayer of three Hail Mary’s to consecrate the day to Our Lady. Next we all participated in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass to ask for strength and to give thanks for the gift of the new day ahead.
Once nourished spiritually at Mass and physically with a big breakfast, we committed ourselves to full days of sports, hikes, all kinds of games, arts and crafts, sidewalk chalk, and making videos.
Before dinner we came together to pray the Holy Rosary in an outdoor procession, the girls took turns carrying Our Lady while others carried the banner that represented their team.
Each evening after dinner we had more fun activities: one night movie night and another night a campfire with s’mores and singing under the stars!
All in all the girls were great examples to us: in their good spirit and overall joy evident in all the activities they undertook.
About two weeks later, I ran into one of the girls (proudly wearing her Girl Summer Days T-shirt) and her mother. Immediately her mother was so happy to let me know that her daughter had come back from GSD exhausted from all the activities but very grateful for all that she had learned from her time with us. Best of all, ever since her daughter came back from GSD she has continued the beautiful devotion of praying three Hail Mary’s when she wakes up in the mornings!!!
We entrust to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Immaculate Heart of Mary all our girls, that they may be examples to those around them of hearts that are filled with the pure joy of being children of God!
Mary of the Blessed Sacrament Adrover, SSVM
Community of Our Lady of Guadalupe