Advent – Give Yourself!
During a silent recollection time our spiritual life was guided by our chaplain Father Paul. He helped us to be open to God’s love and mercy and to go deeper in our responses, offering ourselves freely to God and to others.
Through this teaching we discovered how important it is to nurture our relationship with Jesus. To grow in trust and to surrender ourselves to Him so that we can experience peace, freedom and God’s power in our lives.
The school year ended with another interesting course about the History of New York given by Father Liam. We were very happy to listen to passionate stories about this wonderful city!
Missionary whatever the weather!
A Friday afternoon street evangelization called us, so we went with a lot of determination. We knew the plan; find a warm place, be completely comfortable, do exactly what we have been programed to do – but in fact not at all! Wind, snow, almost 14°F but we were unstoppable – drum, guitar, songbooks in our hands and let’s go! At this moment we really felt the love of Jesus acting through us, even making us forget how cold it was. Evangelization is an important act for others but also for us.
We could see people smiling, supporting us and dancing like our mood was contagious. Thank you mother Mary for this tropical atmosphere!
The joy was intense and indescribable; an exceptional experience which permitted us to see how the Lord can act in us, even when we don’t think that we’ll be able to receive his grace.
We celebrated the first Christmas Eve mass at the Missionaries of Charity’s house with the sisters of Mother Teresa and with some people from the neighborhood.
We were really impressed by their great devotion and wholehearted commitment in prayer.
This was followed by Christmas carols with the sisters and the homeless men who live at their shelter. We entered, greeted everybody and suddenly one sister gave us a bag of instruments saying, “choose one!”.
Woah! We found maracas, tambourines, drums and other unknown instruments, a little unusual but actually they were perfect for the carols. The atmosphere was instant, our bodies didn’t lose time to express themselves by dancing with joy – surely because the birth of our savior was coming soon…A wonderful moment of unity with people from all backgrounds.
With everybody dressed in their fanciest clothes and beautiful Christmas decorations, it was with a joyful heart that we really appreciated the excellent dinner prepared by the team themselves, Yum Yum!
We blessed the dinner and got ready for the feast; Christmas ham and an assortment of potatoes with a delicious gravy. Everything was there for this Christmas Eve and our bellies couldn’t wait anymore! The final touch was the chocolate mousse for dessert of course!
After that, let’s stand up and dance to celebrate as we should – this wonderful day in a peaceful mood before the nativity.
We celebrated the birth of Jesus at Saint Rita, Father Pablo’s parish, where masses are either in Spanish or in English. We began to collaborate with this parish by going straight in at the deep end – singing for the first time during Midnight Mass. The parishioners really enjoyed this time of celebration with a traditional kiss for the baby Jesus, they even brought their own from home to be blessed – a true rejoicing of Jesus as our Savior.
On Christmas day, we celebrated mass at Saint Rita’s again. Afterwards the Missionaries of Charity organize a special Christmas lunch each year and visit the families in the neighborhood who are not able to attend.
This was a particularly moving experience.
We could strongly recognize the light and presence of Jesus shining through these amazing women who offer their time to comfort the afflicted.
After sharing these exceptional and moving moments with the sisters and families, we came back differently, evangelized by these families who tried to keep their faith despite their issues.
Time for Holidays in Connecticut
For this festive time, we were invited to Connecticut, hosted by lovely families from the Parish of Saint Gabriel in Stamford. We received a warm welcome and were really put at ease. We are very grateful to Father Liam, Neil and Celeste and Mike who took care of us like our own mums and dads.
Sun, beach, sand…!
Mike and Celeste drove us to a wonderful beach where we could taste the sea breeze together, with huge “happy-faces” like children, playing and contemplating in the beautiful creation of God. “We should put our feet in the water!” What a lovely suggestion…?! Not expecting this some of us declined but others with the determination of soldiers stood in the freezing cold water. A crazy and very cold experience but a nice memory of downtown Connecticut. What is even crazier is that Mike told us that on the first of January there are people who literally swim in the water by their own choice – unbelievable! On the 31st of December, Mike and Celeste prepared an extremely fancy dinner, perfect for the occasion, mixing Italian and American recipes perfectly in accord. Then, friends of the family, notably Neil, joined us to share this perfect moment with us all. In the Connecticut way of course, joking, laughing, singing and dancing… 5…4…3…2…1! HAPPY NEWW YEAAAR! Thank you Jesus for this blessed moment.
A special thanks to the families who hosted us and generously took care of us during our vacation, each of us really enjoyed our stay, warmly welcomed as though we were part of the family. We have a lot of beautiful memories which we thank God for and we pray for you; giving thanks for your generosity, your shared joy and your good temper (even in the morning).
New Year… New teachings
New year, new teachings: How to live in today’s society. We started the year with two inspiring teachings.
The first one given by Messiane on the Social Doctrine of the Church. Her class deepened our understanding of how an adjusted workplace in society and a fair economic world complete the loving project of God for humanity as co-creators.
We then welcomed Father Dominique Janthial from Belgium. He taught us about Judaism and Islam in the multicultural society of today. This course helped us to reinvent our friendship with these other communities and religions.
Mission with Saint Mother Teresa
Humility, patience, being efficient and of course prayer! We have begun to encounter the Missionaries of Charity in the Mother House of the USA – the first place where they were present in America. The sisters are from countries all over the world (just like us.) We go on mission with them twice a week!
During each service, we see the sisters and volunteers working and praying together which is a beautiful image. During the last Soup Kitchen service, we prepared the food and then served the guests.
The distribution of meals is preceded by a reflection about the day’s Gospel reading or perhaps some small sharing about the love God has for them and their purpose, followed by joyful songs and blessings.
Each time we feel a real satisfaction at the end of the service and we realize how strong and charitable people can be. Though we are there only one day a week, some of the volunteers come every day and they always act with charity and faithfulness like this is a grace for them and a blessing for the needy.
Let’s walk for Life!
On January 19th, we participated in the annual “March for Life” in Washington D.C. – the largest prolife event in the world. As newcomers, we were truly surprised by the presence of lots of Christians from all denominations who made a stand against abortion; especially many student groups. We peacefully walked and prayed on the streets with people who came from all over the US carried by their enthusiasm and fervor.
This day reminded us how necessary it is to remain focused on human life as a sacred gift from God and preserve the value of humanity.
Speaking of enthusiasm, the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal offer a wonderful event for young adults in New York City – they open up their Church every first Saturday and hundreds, including us, respond positively to their invitation. We are always excited to share this spiritual moment with other young people and the friars who humbly organize this event. The night begins with evening prayer – singing the psalms with all our hearts for our Lord. Then calmly and in silence, the sacred heart of Jesus is in our midst and we humbly kneel to adore Him and thank Him for all this love that He gives to us each day, even for the little things.
After this time of prayer, the friars invite us all downstairs to enjoy a variety of artistic performances. A good way to realize that God gives us talents that we have to share, indeed that are at their best when they are shared!
Last time, whilst drinking a cup of tea or coffee, we saw beautiful sculptures, ‘live’ artwork, paintings which displayed some edifying testimonies. Each creation spoke to us in different ways, we are after all unique. We also enjoyed this social and spiritual time by exchanging a few words with people that we met, sharing about what inspired us.
Thank you to the friars for organizing such a happy and spiritual moment with the youth of the Church.
And to finish this Newsletter…
Thank you to all our generous donors and benefactors!