Pascua con jóvenes en Filipinas

This is our second time to have this Easter Triduum/ Holy Week retreat opened for the youth. Last year was the first in Ipil, where we had five (5) young women. It was a very nice experience not only for them, but also for us, the community who journeyed with them. And based from their evaluation, they suggested that it would be better to open this to more young people, especially those closer to us.

    This year, we decided to have it in Zamboanga City since our Pastoral Center has more conducive facilities for a retreat. There were twenty six youth (23 women & 3 men) from Ipil and Zamboanga who responded to our invitation. Together with them were our postulants, Jerline and Elmor, and Hazel, our incoming postulant. We started in the afternoon of Holy Wednesday where we had the expectation setting and the orientation for the retreat itself. We asked the participants to surrender their gadgets like cellphones and cameras to help them experience the retreat in a meaningful way. We had the sisters as facilitators since we divided them into small groups especially when we had the sharing of experiences and evaluation. We ended after lunch of Easter Sunday.

There was an atmosphere of silence and recollections. We felt that everyone was open and willing to go into the process of experiencing the Paschal Mystery of Jesus- His passion, death and resurrection. At the same time, there was a strong desire to know Jesus more and to experience his love. For most of them, it was their first time to celebrate the Holy week in silence and prayer, and joining all the liturgical celebrations in the Church. They found the retreat very informative and formative – a catechesis to deepen their faith, since we provided them with materials to explain in detail what will take place in each celebration. It was also very meaningful, for them and for all of us, the rituals that we had among ourselves - the washing of the feet, the breaking of the bread and the vigil on Holy Thursday; the way of the cross on Good Friday and the workshops on the water, the light and the word as preparation for the Easter Vigil. But most of all, what has made it beautiful was the presence of each one as we, together, prayed, ate in silence, joined the Eucharist and all the celebrations in the Church, and shared our significant experiences in small groups. The joy that we experienced, especially during and after the Easter Vigil celebration, was worth remembering. Jesus is risen indeed, Alleluia! After joining Him in His passion and death, we now share in the great joy of His resurrection.
    
Everyone was so happy and grateful for the life, experiences and faith shared during these days. We bring in our hearts the great love Jesus has for us; also, the gift of new life and new hope He shared with us. Indeed, heaven is our final end.  We hope and pray that with all these experiences, we will have new eyes and a renewed heart to face life ahead of us, that is, as one famous author puts it, “To find God in all things and to see all things in God.” As we travel back home, we savor the joy deep within our heart as we say “JESUS is RISEN, ALLELUIA! ALLELUIA, JESUS is RISEN!