Members of the Emmanuel Community gathered December 28–31, 2019, in St. Paul, Minnesota, for the first-ever North American Young Adult Gathering.

It was a resounding success.

“The Holy Spirit showed up during the entire gathering,” said David Neira, local responsible for the community in Minnesota and lead organizer of the event. “He really gave us a vision for how we may be invited into growing and enculturating the Emmanuel Community here in the United States.”

More than 30 community members and visitors attended part or all of the gathering over the four days. For participants, it was a time of prayer, fraternity, and formation, as well as a chance to discern together how to enculturate (or incorporate) the graces of Emmanuel more fully into their local communities. 

David compared the gathering to the three-week retreat the first members of the community experienced in the mid-1970s.

“We had a schedule and there was much work that needed to be done, but it was truly charismatic, in that what we received was given to us as a grace and not constructed by us as a program,” he said.

He went on to explain how the gathering was different from other Emmanuel trainings and national gatherings.

“The gathering included formation teachings and plenty of time for fraternity with one another. This included long meals and time just to be together,” he said. “We also made spontaneous changes to the schedule based on the Holy Spirit’s promptings. This included extra opportunities for adoration, an increased focus on learning how to praise, and a longer period of time in which we asked for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit.”

Father Janez Rus, youth director of the Emmanuel Community, traveled from Munich, Germany, to participate. Other presenters included:

  • Gasper and Agata Hren, Emmanuel youth coordinators in Slovenia
  • Isabella Wjnberg, a consecrated sister living in Amsterdam
  • Joanna Statnik, a community member from Poland who participated in the Emmanuel School of Mission in New York City last year
  • David Neira, Father Kevin Manthey, and Chris Motz, community members living in Minnesota and South Dakota

The gathering included:

  • Daily Mass, praise, and adoration
  • Presentations on a variety of topics, including the communion of the states of life, the spirituality of Paray-le-Monial, Mary and the Holy Spirit, and the history of the Catholic charismatic renewal in the United States
  • Testimonies from members of the Minnesota community
  • Opportunities for brothers and sisters to share their thoughts and discernment on how the community could be present in North America going forward
  • A Mercy Night Holy Hour
  • A small-group prayer period asking for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit—asking in particular for specific missions or callings within the community
  • More than eight hours of teachings and workshops on praise
  • Mass with Archbishop Bernard Hebda of St. Paul and Minneapolis
  • An outing to view Terrence Malick’s film A Hidden Life on World War II martyr Blessed Franz Jägerstätter
  • A New Year’s Eve celebration that consisted of a beer-and-wine social, talent show, and adoration
  • Welcoming and praying for two brothers as they took their Step of Welcome and Discernment on New Year’s Eve

Participants hailed from six U.S. states (Minnesota, South Dakota, California, Florida, New Jersey, and Massachusetts), as well as from Canada and Europe.

Planning for the weekend began in July, with members of the Minnesota community (led by David) organizing the presenters, the schedule, housing, transportation, meals and snacks, decorations, publicity, and more. They met four times before the event to discern its feasibility, propose the vision, delegate services, and check in on progress. David also met with the European presenters three times before the event.

Everyone who participated experienced the joy of being united as brothers and sisters through the Holy Spirit.

Stay tuned in the days ahead to read testimonies from brothers and sisters about the Young Adult Gathering!

Sam Patet (MN)


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US Office Address:
Emmanuel Community, Inc
280 Weaver St
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