By Father James Longe
St. Mary Parish, Westfield
On Friday, 23 July 2010, the youth of Saint Mary’s in Westfield embarked upon their yearly pilgrimage to Steubenville East. No longer hosted by the Lasalette Community of Attleboro, MA, we departed on a rainy afternoon for southern Rhode Island. This year’s gathering was held at the University of Rhode Island, Kingston, and led by LifeTeen International.
The campus is large and beautiful. Most everyone (staff and visitor alike) treated us with respect and warmth; we were grateful. After a long and tedious drive (we became lost three times), our group of 15 teenagers and 5 chaperones arrived in time for a quick supper.
Saturday morning came quickly for most! Yes, the comatose kids shown below belong to us . . . . After a tasty and hearty breakfast, we returned for further talks and social activities. In the afternoon, dozens of priests (me included) heard Sacramental Confessions for a span of four hours. God’s grace is alive and active among the young – Alleluia!
In the evening we had another round of live music and meaningful talks. The spiritual “witnessing” to Our Lord Jesus Christ occurred by the single and married alike; young and old; female and male; formally as well as spontaneous. It was great! Afterward, before going our separate ways, we gathered for mutual conversation – and life-giving prayer!
Similar to Catholic Parishes throughout the world, on Resurrection Sunday, we gathered for a dynamic Celebration of Holy Eucharist. We hoped the Bishop of Providence would join us like he did last year, yet this was not to be. No hard feelings. We lovingly prayed for Bishop Tobin during Petitions as well as during Sacred Consecration.
After a hearty outdoor lunch, we departed for Westfield. Ever mindful of the needs of others, our chaperone Margarita Soto suggested a pit-stop for ice-cream. Agreement was unanimous! Westfield would have to wait another hour or so for the return of her beloved children . . . .
This year’s spiritual theme for Steubenville East was: “THE WORD BECAME FLESH” (John 1:14) What will it be next year? In the adorable Holy Spirit, let’s start planning and find out together . ..