Our 3rd annual retreat with some 48 Timber Wolves, Explorers and leaders / parents attending was yet another rewarding experience. Together we participated in the celebration of Mass both on Saturday and Sunday, Confession and Eucharistic Adoration for two wonderful hours face to face with Jesus... the theme for adoration centered around our youth calling out to Jesus I Love you Jesus!
Lively discussions centered around the themes of Vocations, The Sign of the Cross, what does it really mean, How to become a Saint and the difference between an ordinary and an extraordinary saint, The Chaplet of Divine Mercy, How to be Happy and lastly The Holy Spirit - who he is.
Was the weekend retreat a success... from one parent who attended the retreat where she wrote...
To All the Leaders:
Just wanted to drop a note to say thank you for making the retreat happen. It was Timothy’s first retreat experience and I’m grateful that it was a positive experience for him. Despite arriving late and missing some of the activities (we arrived Saturday afternoon), Timothy still learned something from the retreat and was, in fact, able to apply it immediately. Tonight, just before bedtime, he prayed without being reminded (this is the first time that’s happened), plus, I could tell from his prayer that it was a sincere prayer (and that is rare for him). Coming from a “non-Catholic family” (I am the only Catholic adult in our family of 4 adults + 2 children), it is difficult for him to embrace his Catholic faith and such experience (the retreat) has made a big difference so I am deeply grateful.
I am also happy to find out how carefully the meals were prepared (they were, not only safe for a boy like him – with multiple food allergies, they were also nutritious). Timothy thought that it was a pity that we arrived late and missed the first meal (lunch)…J I’m sure everyone put a lot of effort into the preparations.
Thanks, Chil, for approaching us during Monday’s ceremonies. If you hadn’t we probably wouldn’t have given this a 2ndthought. Thanks, Dennis, for calling and suggesting that arriving late is an option. Timothy was not willing to miss his Saturday school because of the tests and that got me stuck in the middle of deliberating (if he doesn’t go to the retreat, he won’t benefit; on the other hand, if I “make” him go, will he regret it because he missed his tests). And, of course, thank to Paul and other leaders for the wonderful talks and information sessions. In fact, even I enjoyed listening to your talks.
So our sincere thanks to everyone involved!!!!
-- Jo Ann --
Written by Akela True Macedo-Van Horne
The morning of Saturday November 17th, 2007 was crisp and cold. The freshness of the morning was reflected in the joyful faces that emerged from family vehicles arriving at Baythorn Public School. Luggage was packed into the cars and vans of the generous parents who so kindly sacrificed their time to drive youth to the Marylake retreat house about 30 minutes away in King City, Ontario.
Upon arriving on the retreat grounds and traveling through a wondrously picturesque and whimsical winding path surrounded by tall trees the youth excitedly greeted one another in anticipation of the life changing spiritual experience to come, not to forget the fun, adventure, and wholesome healthy meals that we were treated to as well.
For many of our youth, this would be their very first retreat experience. As leaders, it was a privilege and a joy to guide all youth on their path towards God through His beloved son, our friend and Saviour Jesus. It was especially exciting to accompany those new to the movement and new to the retreat experience on their journey towards discovery of the immense love of Christ.
After settling in their warm and cozy rooms and navigating the quickest route to their friends' rooms in the maze like sleeping quarters of the retreat house, our youth settled down in the main hall to begin the retreat.
Youth, leaders and participating adults were mesmerized as Akela Paul Ritchi humorously and animatedly in a style unique to him, passionately and eloquently discussed and explained in detail the meaning and significant relevance each of the 10 Commandments with respect to age appropriate situations and decisions in the lives of our Timberwolf and Explorer youth age 8 to 16.
"Thou shalt not worship other Gods" was referenced to excessive video games, television watching taking precedence over valuable time spent with God. Youth and adults alike sat silently, thinking and listening to Akela Paul, as they independently began to consider their past actions, behaviour and habits with new understanding. The light of this increased awareness of the scope of sin that we may unknowingly and unintentionally fall into was evident in the insightful questions posed by the youth and even some leaders. As usual, Akela Paul answered to the best of his ability with great patience, compassion, understanding and wisdom as prompted by the Holy Spirit.
The discussion ended with each participant making a personal, private promise to self and God to honestly reflect, recall and repent all sins in order to receive the limitless blessings and tremendous gift of grace given to us in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
Lunch was delicious to say the least! The Augustinian Sisters provided a veritable feast of homemade beef burgers, fresh bread, two plentiful bowls of homemade pasta and salad. The cake and fruit for dessert was the perfect end to such a tasty meal.
Once all were nourished physically, we returned to the main hall to for more spiritual nourishment as Father Hansoo had so kindly come to visit. Yes, our dear Father Hansoo, associate pastor at Blessed Trinity Parish had taken the afternoon away from his parish duties to spend time with our youth, speak to them on matters pertaining to the Catholic Faith as well as to hear confessions during the retreat.
Father Hansoo began the afternoon session with a seminar on the meaning and significance of The Eucharist and The Sacrament of Reconciliation known to others as Confession. At one point, after Father Hansoo had begun, a few young Timberwolf boys wandered into the hall late and quietly tiptoed towards the back hoping not to be noticed. To their dismay and to the glee of the youth present and on time, their unfortunate latecomers were called to the front and ordered to do 10 push ups before going back to their seats in the back. A good lesson for all present on the merits of punctuality for sure!
Over the last 2 ½ years while he has been at Blessed Trinity and involved with the FNE Father Hansoo has developed an amazing and comfortable repertoire with our FNE youth, so it was no surprise to us as leaders at how open, honest and informative the seminar was that afternoon. We thank Father Hansoo for taking time out of his busy schedule to join us for the afternoon.
Before Father Hansoo left, many of our youth, leaders and parent participants received the sacrament of reconciliation. A few youth would return to the confessional again later that evening.
A boisterous and long anticipated game of soccer was enjoyed by the boys later in the afternoon. Girls chose to paint Christmas gifts for the infirm and elderly at the nursing home they would be visiting during Christmastime.
By about 4pm, the boys began to tumble into the main hall tired and rosy cheeked ready to admire the beautiful masterpieces that the girls had painstakingly created and laid about to dry in the hall. Tales of goals scored, and exciting and humour "plays" in the soccer game were shared and camaraderie filled the air.
The evening's spiritual program began with a beautiful mass in the upstairs chapel at the Marylake retreat house. Holy Mass began and ended with an angelic chorus of Timberwolves and Explorers singing their signature hymn "Children of the Light". Hymns during mass were lead by Akela True and Lynx who did a wonderful job of getting even the most reluctant singers to participate.
Father Jacob's homily touching on the love of Christ and his great mercy was received with open hearts and absorbent minds. We thank Father Jacob for coming to celebrate mass with us so intimately as a movement.
A wholesome dinner of chicken, potato wedges, salad, pasta and rhubarb dessert with cakes and other baked goods was welcomed by hungry boys and girls alike. The child friendly fare that the Augustinian Sisters provided was perfect for our youth who ate heartily at every meal.
After a few hours of free time, which included the younger youth watching and giggling as a few leaders and older explorer boys playing an interesting game of "Twister", contorting themselves in ways previously thought humanly impossible.
The youth returned to the upstairs chapel for evening Adoration, Holy Rosary, Chaplet of Divine Mercy, confessions, prayers and petitions. More than one of our youth members appeared to be in a total state of deep thought and communication with the Lord from time to time as they opened their hearts like they have never appeared to do before... some could even say that they glowed in a way that conveyed a message of total love, trust and peace what an awesome sight for us as adult leaders to behold and take it, what a gift, such an awesome sense of encouragement for all of those present for this unique retreat!
All youth behaved impeccably well, praying the rosary fervently, participating in the singing of the hymns and taking turns to receive the sacrament of reconciliation, some for the second time that day!
By 10pm some of our youth had left the chapel to get ready for bed, however, all the Explorer boys and many of the Timberwolf girls and boys were still on their knees in the chapel as Father Jacob lovingly took the Pyx out of the Monstrance and placed our Lord in his place of honour in the Tabernacle.
Crackers, cheese, cookies and hot chocolate were served before all youth were ushered into their sleeping quarters for the night. Both girls and boys enjoyed time laughing, talking and playing with friends in sleepover mode, before drifting to sleep after a busy and satisfying day, nourished in everyway, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
7am Sunday November 18th, 2007 came fast upon us and youth, although somewhat tired awoke promptly to the knocks and "good morning" greetings of leaders.
Youth entered the dining room with delighted squeals of joy as they set their eyes upon the mount of freshly made pancakes and pile of sausages waiting to be served.
After packing and dressing in full and spotless uniforms the Explorers and some brave Timberwolf boys walked to mass enjoying the morning dew, crisp cool autumn air and a pre-winter chill. Others were transported by car to the community church just a short drive away.
All FNE youth looked stunningly smart in their uniforms and behaved extremely well. Yes, they were quite impressive, so much so the occasional compliment was whispered from one member of the congregation to another. After mass, a father from the congregation even approached Akela Paul to enquire about the FNE movement and how his young son could join!
Upon returning to the retreat house after mass, some youth played outside while others chose to participate in a cross decorating craft inside. Later, the explorers hiked to a nearby apple orchard for cider and a brisk walk on the moraine trail.
Lunch was, as usual, perfectly delicious with hotdogs, wedge fries, pasta and ice cream for dessert. As with all the meals, youth participated and co operated in cleaning their own tables and ensuring that the retreat center remained as it was when we had entered the day before.
Clean up and packing was a breeze with so many helping hands and our trip back to Baythorn was quick and easy. By 5pm tired, satisfied and happy, FNE youth were returned to parents, happily waiting to hear details of their daughters and sons weekend FNE retreat.
As leaders, we know, each youth had an exciting tale to tell, one of friendship, one of a spiritual journey and one of joy, we know this, for we too, returned with our own tales of joy, peace and wonder as we rejoiced in God's greatest creation, that of humanity, in His likeness, beautiful inside and out, as exemplified by each and everyone one of our FNE youth.
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