Formation and the first two retreats in Dearborne

[insert boilerplate apology for lack of updates here]

Ok, now that that's over with, I finished the solar panel job, and returned to Chicago in late December. After spending Christmas with my family, I went to a young adults retreat at Marytown, a friary (that means there's franciscan friars who live there, like the monks in habits you see in medieval movies) and church about 3 miles from my house. It's also the center for the Militia Immaculata (that's Latin for "Army of Mary" a Catholic movement founded by St. Maximilian Kolbe, the Hero of Auschwitz) and the National Shrine of St Maximilian Kolbe, the Franciscan priest who spread the message of total consecration to Mary who leads us to Jesus, and who gave his life for another prisoner in a concentration camp in WWII.
Anthough it's just a local church for me, it's a worldwide movement, and most of the young adults there were from much farther away, some from Washington state, California, New York, Arkansas, Texas, and even Canada. We had a great 6 days there, with about 80 people learning about their faith and on fire with love for God, and finished with a big New Year's party and High Mass at Midnight, where Father Steve took the Holy Eucharist in the monstrance, and went out into the snow and blessed the entire world.

After that, 8 of us young adults (ranging in age from 18 to 26) climbed in a van and drove to another Franciscan Friary in Detroit Michigan. We spent four weeks there in formation, receiving intensive education about our faith from the friars and priests who live there, as well as some professors and nuns who visited us as well. The Friary there was in the middle of a cemetery, through which some of us went on walks at night, and provided a very peaceful atmosphere.

After those four weeks of peace though, it was time for the rubber to hit the road.
Our team is the Max 2009 Evangelization Team. We're a bunch of young adults who just want to spread devotion to Jesus through Mary, so we travel around the country in a couple vehicles, staying with families and religious communities we know, and giving retreats, talks, and days of reflection to a bunch of different groups, from confirmation classes and high schoolers, to adults and the elderly in nursing homes.
We have no formal training other than a month of formation, we're not in a religious community, all we have is youthful enthusiasm, and 200 years of tradition to draw upon.
As I mentioned before, we are all members of and met through the Militia Immaculata, a lay organization founded in 1917 by St Maximilian Kolbe in Rome to defend the Church and to spread personal consecration to Jesus through Mary. So we give presentations on the sacraments of the Catholic Church, especially Reconciliation and the Eucharist, and Confirmation or the Anointing of the Sick to appropriate age groups. We also give presentations on Our Lady, Mary, the Mother of God, and how she leads us closer to her son; on our founder, St Maximilian Kolbe; and on how our lives have been affected by joining the MI (Militia Immaculata)

We gave two retreats in Dearborne, Michigan, at the school where Father Edmund (one of the Franciscan priests we stayed with, who has a wonderfully wry sense of humor) teaches. Here are two slideshows of pictures from them, complete with captions:

In there photos you can see some of the things we typically do on day long retreats with junior high kids, including:
-Faith based action songs as icebreakers (or possibly just ways to humiliate ourselves)
-Going over an examination of conscience, which they nail to the cross after the sacrament of Confession, representing that Jesus has taken their sins upon Himself, and they no longer have to be burdened with them
-Small groups to facilitate discussion, which also think up names for themselves and draw very colorful banners related to the theme Our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI has proclaimed for youth this year, "We cast our hope in the living God" (1 Timothy 4:10)
-The chocolate milk talk, using the analogy of chocolate milk to show how God puts grace in our soul through the sacrament of Baptism, but the sacrament of Confirmation adds more and stirs up this grace in us, as seen in the Acts of the Apostles
-The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, where we participate in the Last Supper and the Sacrifice of the Cross

Of course, this is hardly everything we do, but it's a beginning. Talks aren't overly photogenic, and we also try to keep those to only 10-15 minutes, because, while important, the younglings have a limited attention span.

Then we sadly bade farewell the the friary, which had been our home for a month, and set out on the road, not t stop at any place for more than a week for a long time.


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