Fr. Rafael visits the community of Jacksonville, Florida (USA), from November 21st-28th, 2016.
Once more, we have had the great joy of having the founder of the Home of the Mother, Fr. Rafael Alonso Reymundo, visit the community of Jacksonville, Florida. Mother Ana Maria and Sr. Karen accompanied Father on this trip which was so eagerly awaited both by the lay members and the Servant Sisters. They did not stop since the moment they arrived because the week was full of activities.
Sr. Karen Maria had a very important mission to fulfill and very little time to do it; she had to paint three icons for the new chapel in the Sister’s house. The Sister’s house was recently renovated and the chapel was halfway done. Sr. Karen Maria, with the artistic gifts that the good Lord has given her, changed the half-finished chapel into a place of prayer. The three icons that she paint represent the Annunciation, the Crucifixion and the Final Judgement and just looking at them helps you to meditate on these great mysteries. Brother Carl, Servant Brother of the Home of the Mother, also put his gifts at the service of the community by making ten new pews for the Sister’s chapel.
While Sr. Karen was busy painting, Father and Mother went on a quick trip to Georgia to make a few visits. On November 24th they were back in Jacksonville and we had a Spanish style Thanksgiving, eating a typical Spanish food called “cocido”. This was actually what really was eaten on the first Thanksgiving on September 8th, 1565 when the Spanish missionaries celebrated the first Mass on American soil in St. Augustine, Florida. Later, they celebrated this great event with “cocido”.
From Friday until Sunday we had our annual Thanksgiving Encounter. This year many families participated in the get-together. Also, in addition to having Mother and Father with us we were also were blessed with the presence of the Servant Brothers. Fr. Felix, Superior of the Servant Brothers, gave a talk the first day of the encounter about holiness as our universal vocation and the complete surrender that this vocation demands of each one of us, each one in the state of life that God has called him to. Father encouraged the married couples to live their vocation in fidelity and charity, always making their love for one another grow, and always counting on the sacramental grace that strengthens them.
On Saturday, Fr. Rafael spoke about many different topics related to the Home of the Mother. He told some news from other communities, especially from the community of Playa Prieta. He spoke about the progress of the reconstruction of the school and he gave thanks to so many people for their generosity and offering their help. The Servant Brothers also shared news from their community in Rio Chico. They told us that they now have to rebuild two churches from damage caused by the earthquake that took place on April 16th. One of the churches they have to rebuild is in Playa Prieta, right next to the Sisters school and the other church is in Rio Chico where they Servant Brothers have their home. Father Felix said that they would need as much help as they could get and if anyone felt moved to help, their help would be more than welcome. Fr. Rafael also talked about the movie that we are making about Sr. Clare’s life and he shared many graces that have come to our community after Sr. Care’s death. The encounter went by quickly, with time for prayer, fraternity, Mass, family rosary, meals together, assemblies, and free time to get to know one another.
The last day of the get-together we had adoration and mass which officially ended the retreat. The families went back to their homes very happy and with a renewed spirit from all that they had received during these days.
Not only did the Thanksgiving Encounter come to an end, but the visit of our Founder and our Sisters. On Monday they had to go back to Spain and we were left giving thanks to God for all of the spiritual fruit that was received throughout their trip. We pray that God willing, they will be able to come back soon.