Written by Akela True Macedo-Van Horne
Marylake - November 18-19, 2006
It began with an exuberant "howl" and ended quietly with a tired goodbye. Thanks to the 55 devoted youth participants, two parents and leaders, the FNE Timber wolf and Explorer retreat at Mary Lake this weekend was an unforgettable experience in spiritual growth, camaraderie and fun! With Blessed Trinity's Fr. Hansoo Park as special guest visitor, the youth gained an increased awareness of the power of the Eucharist, as well as a deeper understanding into the nature of the priesthood. Father Hansoo was most gracious and extremely honest in answering numerous questions from youth as well as leaders on everything from his life before priesthood to whether he as an ordained priest has ever doubted his faith. An eloquent Holy Spirit inspired speaker and friend, Fr. Hansoo's sacrifice of time, travel and self was truly a gift that each individual present at the retreat will appreciate for a lifetime.
As well as being nourished spiritually, the youth enjoyed the privilege of enjoying healthy, tasty and generous meals prepared by the holy, kind and angelic Sisters of Our Lady of Good Counsel. Each meal was prepared tirelessly with love and a peaceful smile and accepted hungrily and eagerly by awaiting boys and girls alike. The love that went into those delicious meals was truly as plentiful as the ingredients used. By example of these amazing Sisters, may we learn to work joyfully and diligently in all we do.
Evening Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament accompanied by the singing of hymns lead by the talented girl Timber wolf den, confession, heard by the kind Father Adams who travelled all the way from Toronto to help us and Father Larry from the local Augustinian community and the holy Rosary nurtured individual spiritual growth and increased faith within the FNE movement. Each and every boy, girl and leader left with a sense of peace, reverence and eternal gratitude for the extreme sacrifice that our Lord Jesus Christ made to save us.
Before retiring to their respective floors, a wonderful evening of prayer, mediation and contemplation was concluded with the incredible start of the movie entitled "The Ten Commandments" Boys and girls alike, were glued to the television screen focussed and highly interested in all they saw. As a new day dawned and Saturday slowly turned into Sunday, while most youth were settling down for a good night's rest. A few extremely devoted Explorer boys were unexpectedly discovered in the chapel just before 1.00 a.m. ardently praying the Chaplet of Divine Mercy of their own accord, with no adult leader present. What an awesome sight! Shortly thereafter some six Timber Wolves (who said they could not sleep) wandered in to pray the complete Rosary before they too returned to their beds for a well earned sleep!
Sunday began bright and early with a hearty breakfast and prayerful song. With the cool morning and the subtle smell of dew, the walk to the stunning and beautiful Marylake Monastery was short but brisk. Youth dressed in full and spotless uniforms were welcomed warmly by Father Leo on behalf of the gracious Augustinian community both lay and religious. Hymns were accompanied by an accomplished organist and the chapel itself with it's large and colourful stained glass windows was radiant.
In the afternoon, the Stations of the Cross were creatively and articulately presented to the group in the form of intricately and painstakingly hand painted depictions by the girl Timberwolf den. A sweet little meditative script with multiple girl Timberwolves as readers later accompanied the unveiling of the artistic Stations to the group as a whole. The girls spoke sorrowfully as the boys listened in complete and utter silence in awe of the magnitude of Christ's sacrifice. Stations of the Cross like none other!
In between our very busy program the girls prepared incredible works of art while the boys spent periods of free time in the great outdoors playing an awesome and well balanced fast paced game of soccer organized and run very successfully totally by the boys themselves!
Fair play was evident while others explored the nearby fields to hunt for signs of wildlife (wolves, deer, rabbits are known to frequently visit the grounds) and to create their own sense of adventure, experiences that are far too often lacking on every day lives of our children... but yet experiences that play a central role in our FNE Explorer program!
As all good things must come to an end, our weekend of peace and restoration at Marylake concluded with all boy Timber wolves, girl Timber wolves and boy Explorers participating in the Living Rosary and meditations upon the beautifully sculpted Stations of the cross in the
chapel. Parents were greeted by youthful smiles, joyful anecdotes and healthy happy boys and girls tired, but nourished in every possible way, physically, emotionally and most importantly, spiritually.
May God bless the youth that attended the FNE Retreat at MaryLake this weekend. May the youth carry with them, the knowledge of the infinite love of Christ, awe of His extreme sacrifice and the increased faith that has been bestowed upon them today and for the rest of their lives as they continue on their journey towards Jesus. We pray that in the future we may be given the opportunity to share similar invigorating and spiritually uplifting retreat and pilgrimage experiences with not only our brother and sister timber wolves, explorers, but new leaders and devoted parents as well.
Please do not hesitate to contact Paul Ritchi at (905) 884-2423 for further information regarding attending and participating in future retreats and pilgrimages or interest in joining our FNE Explorer Movement either as a timber wolf, explorer or adult leader. We welcome new members into our Catholic faith based movement to explore the unlimited opportunities that our movement offers. Amen.
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