The Home of the Mother celebrated its annual Thanksgiving Family Encounter at Assumption Catholic Parish in Jacksonville, Florida. The retreat was held all day Friday and Saturday, on November 23-24.
Families from Florida and Georgia were able to come and about 100 people attended in all. The theme of the retreat was “The Joy of Believing”.
The day started with adoration in the church at nine in the morning. There were two formation talks given each day, one in the morning and another in the evening. Fr. Felix and Fr. Henry, Servant Priests of the Home of the Mother, led the talks, speaking about the need to evangelize during this Year of Faiths, about the family and the joy of believing. After the afternoon talk, everyone split up into groups in order to better reflect on what they had heard.
In the afternoon there were family games, led by one of the families of the Home of the Mother from Tampa. The games included Capture the Flag and Kickball. Afterwards, there was a family rosary walk outside on the field, followed by mass in the Church.
People took full advantage of the fact that there were confessions available throughout the day. There was also free time in order for the families to relax and spend time together. The food was excellent and people from the parish chipped in so as to help the Home of the Mother run the meals. The Men’s Club cooked a wonderful barbeque, the Filipino community helped to make their ever-popular Filipino dishes, the Boys Scouts helped to build the bonfires and provided the Smores.
Since the activities were open to everyone, people came in and out during the day to different talks and events. The kids were divided into different age groups and played lots of games, either outside in the field and on the playground or inside at the school gym. For a few of the games, the older kids lent a hand with the younger kids. Daycare was also available for 6 and under both Friday and Saturday.
After dinner each night, the families came together for a special event. On Friday, there was a movie night. The feature film was “Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory”. The way that the characters act in the movie was a good example of what not to do, how letting ourselves be taken over by one of the seven deadly sins really takes us away from what makes us truly happy. The following night, everyone headed outside to gather under a statue of Our Lady that is set up on a tree on the field, which was lit up that night, not only with its habitual strands of light that trim the tree around the statue, but also with three bonfires, where the kids gathered round to make Smores, while the teenagers and young adults listened to songs, jokes, and an informal talk by the Servant Priests. The night was topped off by a grand finale of fireworks, which a local boat show was giving on. At one moment during the show, Fr. Henry compared God’s love to the fireworks, and right when he said “God loves us so much”, a heart-shaped firework lit up the sky.
The whole retreat was a nice time for families, young adults, teenagers, and kids to get together, giving thanks to God and being able to spend quality time together.