Saturday, January 21, 2006

Youth Retreat- Cielo Mar

Jovenes (youth) from San Andres Apostol and San Pablo Letrán gather for breakfast

Left: The jovenes lead Morning Prayer

Right: An exercise in" Do Unto Others"

On January 20-21 Vince and I acompanied a group of 30 youth from our church and from a mission church in the countryside on a retreat at Cielo Mar, the rustic diocesan retreat center right on the beach. I gave a talk on self-esteem, the lay missioner from the campo church gave a talk on our relationship with God, there was Compline, Morning Prayer, a 1 AM serenade by the boys outside of the girl's room, soccer, body-surfing, horseback riding on the beach, and swimming in the pool. We closed with a Eucharist in a little enclosed patio overlooking the sea, where the bishop would like to build a chapel someday. The kids asked for the self-esteem theme-- the president of the youth group, a real go-getter whom all the kids look up to, was heard to say, "I've got my self-esteem on the floor. It's really bad." I think these kids are amazing-- they are so smart, and so organized (they planned the entire retreat themselves), and they're the ones that have survived, that have somehow made it past the temptations and pressure and have stayed out of the gangs. But now they're looking toward a future which is entirely uncertain, with little hope, and faced with a society that discriminates against them just for being young (the general feeling is that if you're under 25 and not a jet-setter there's a good chance you're a gang member). It's not so surprising then, that they have a hard time believing that they're worth anything. I don't think I will ever forget looking them one by one in the eye during the sermon, with the waves crashing behind me, telling them over and over again-- "Dios te ama. Dios te ama. Dios te ama." God loves you. If you can come to really believe that, if you can absorb the love of God into your life and begin to act like it's true, to treat yourself as the beloved of God-- it's the one thing that can change everything.-Amy

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