Holy Week Encounter in Florida, (USA), from March 24th-27th of 2016.
This year marked the 11th Holy Week Encounter here in the USA that took place in Lake Swan Camp in Melrose, Florida. There were around 180 people who participated in this year’s encounter.
Together, we intensely reflected on three church documents about the priesthood which helped us realize the importance of the priestly vocation and it has filled us with desires to pray and offer sacrifices for our priests.
The encounter began on Holy Thursday in the morning with points of meditation and prayer time led by Fr. Felix, Servant Priest of the Home of the Mother. After prayer it was lunch time and time to pray the rosary. In the afternoon the kids went to their own activities while the adults and teens had the first talk on the decree Presbyterorum Ordinis given by Fr. Henry, Servant Priest of the Home of the Mother. In this talk Fr. Henry helped us reflect on the life of a priest, especially on the importance of his process of formation and his call to holiness, which actually applies to all of us in virtue of our baptism. We finished the day with mass, dinner and a holy hour led by Sr. Kelly Jo, Servant Sister, that filled us with desires to ask the Lord the grace to have a true conversion in love. After the Holy hour we took turns before the Eucharist accompanying our Lord and reflecting on the mystery of our Redemption.
Throughout the next few days we started off the mornings with the consecration to the hearts of Jesus and Mary, Lauds, breakfast and points of meditation. During lunch we were able to get to know each other better and make new friends. It was a great joy to get together with old friend and meet new families who came to the encounter for the first time. In the afternoons we prayed the rosary walking around the camp grounds and had our team meetings to share our ideas and reflect as a group on the talks that we had heard during the day.
On Good Friday, Fr. Felix gave the second talk on Paul VI’s document Sacerdotalis Caelibatus. He enlightened us about the value of virginity and celibacy and how the matrimonial state of life and the celibate state of life mutually enrich one another. After we watched the movie of the Passion, we had the Stations of the Cross in the chapel and at 3:00 PM, the hour in which our Lord died, we had the Good Friday celebration with the adoration of the Cross.
On Saturday Morning, Sr. Kelai gave points of meditation centered on the figure of Our Lady, uniting ourselves to her pain and finding in Her our hope. After prayer, Sr. Grace gave the last talk on Pastores Dabo Vobis by John Paul II. She encouraged all of us to help the priests with our prayers and sacrifices, by being faithful to our call to holiness, and by frequenting the sacraments and spiritual direction. After the talk we had a Google Hangout with all of the other Holy Week Encounters all over the world. This was a very enriching experience for all of those present. In the afternoon we had the penitential act and time for confessions as a preparation for the Easter Vigil.
After the Easter Vigil, the moment arrived for the much awaited festival. We started off the festival with a great firework show, later we had skits, songs and even sisters who juggled! Everyone had a great time. On Sunday it was time to say goodbye, but not before we had one final assembly where everyone could share their experiences from this encounter. Everyone left tired, but very happy and grateful from all that we had received during these three days.
Many graces were received during the Holy Week Encounter and we were able to see how God acted with such strength in many hearts. We lived together the Holy Week celebrations, and we were able to help one another by our testimonies, living it all as a family. Let us give thanks to the Lord and our Lady for these days that we have lived together and our thanks to all those who have put so much effort into making this encounter possible. Christ is truly risen! Alleluya!