Thanksgiving family encounter in Jacksonville, Florida (United States), November 29th-December 1st, 2013.
In Jacksonville, Florida (United States) we had the annual Thanksgiving encounter, from November 29th-December 1st. This year was special, since we were blessed with the presence of our founder, Father Rafael Alonso. He arrived to the United States on November 26th, after his visit to Ecuador, and stayed until December 3rd.
The encounter began on Friday with lunch, after the United States' Thanksgiving holiday. Father Fred Parke, pastor of Assumption Catholic Church, let us use the parish facilities for our activities.
At 1:30, Father Rafael gave points of meditation and then everyone went to the Church for a time of prayer. At 3:00 we had the first talk about the introduction and the first chapter of Pope Francis' encyclical "Lumen Fidei", given by Sister Marina Hernández. After the talk, until Mass at 5:15, we had a meeting where we talked about different aspects of the faith. We finished the day with the rosary and then everyone went home to sleep.
The next day began with points of meditation by Father Rafael. He commented on the gospel of the sinful woman who annointed the feet of Jesus with perfume in Simon, the pharisee's house. Afterwards, we had the second talk about the encyclical "Lumen Fidei", given by Kevin Hernández, father of 9 and Lay Member of the Home of the Mother. After lunch, Father Felix López gave the third talk about the encyclical, explaining the last chapter and the conclusion.
In the meeting that we had after the talk, Father Rafael, with Father Félix and Sister Reme, one of the first three Servant Sisters, explained various parts of the history of the Home of the Mother. For many, it was the first time to hear the story directly from the mouth of the founder and of the first members of the Home. It was a very enriching meeting.
At 5:15 we had Mass in the church and afterwards, Father enrolled in the scapular all those who wished to receive it and consecrated all the children present to the Blessed Virgin. After supper, the children and youth preformed some skits and songs that they had prepared. Among many other things, one of Sr. Mary Rose Gallaher's brothers played a song for us on his violin and Anne Shea, Sr. Kathryn's mother played the guitar and sang several songs. In the end, Father Rafael gave us a blessing and everyone returned home to sleep.
On Sunday, before the encounter would finish with Mass at 10:00 in the parish, Father Rafael gave points of meditation about the resurrection of the widow of Naín's son. After Mass we all said goodbye. Everyone thanked Father Rafael especially for his presence during the encounter and they hope to see him again next year.