A Summer Apostolic Experience at Saint Vincent de Paul Parish in Los Angeles, California
With just a few weeks of being with the Saint Vincent de Paul community here in Los Angeles, I feel like I already have so many experiences to share. It has been two wonderful weeks of touching experiences since my arrival, and I already have had the opportunity to spend time with the majority of groups and ministries here in the parish.
The very next day after my arrival, I was able to participate and share a reflection of the Word of God with a group of eighth grade boys and girls. They were on a retreat in preparation for their graduation. The retreat itself was such a great experience, and was held right on the beach. The theme for reflection was sin and reconciliation, with an emphasis how the sacrament of reconciliation can restore what has been stained by sin.
In an interactive way, through games together on the seashore, the students reflected on how sin damages our souls, but the sacrament of reconciliation helps us to restore our relationship with Christ.
They were asked to cover their bodies with sand as much as they could, and then they were invited to go into the water and get clean. Then they came out of the water and the reflection continued. They were asked this question: “How do you feel now that you got cleaned, did the water help?” Their response was “No!! It makes it worse!” Of course after getting wet, the sand just stuck all the more to their skin.
The conclusion of the reflection was that they would not get clean at all, until they could take a good shower. In this case, taking a shower was a symbol of what confession does for our souls; we cannot get cleaned from sin until we make a good confession. The sacrament of reconciliation cleans our souls completely and restores our relationship with Christ. It is our responsibility to keep it clean as much as possible. Otherwise, what will happen to our soul with sin is the same that happened with the sand on their bodies from the ocean: it will only get worse.
About three days later during my first week with the Los Angeles community, I accompanied the Vincentian Marian Youth group. They also had activities on the beach. We prayed the Rosary with a reflection, and I shared with them the passage in 1 Corinthians 12; 12-27. This passage speaks of the One Body of Christ, with many parts, and the reflection was focused on how important
each one of us are in the Church, the Mystical Body of Christ. No matter how old or how young we are, our role in the Church is very important. I assured them that they have so much to give to the church in today’s world. Often, the youth feel they have been left out — they think that there is no place for them in the Church. In the reflection, they were challenged with the question, “Are you doing the part that corresponds to you, so that the body works properly?” With that question in mind, each was given a few minutes to think about it. Each student was asked to think about what part of the body of Christ he or she identifies with most strongly.
The moment came for them to share their reflections, which were surprising but also full of joy for me. Among the responses I received were the eyes, the mouth, the nose, the ears, the hair and even the brain of Jesus. After some further reflection where each student shared why he or she had chosen that particular part, we sat around a bonfire for a night of food and fun.
variety of things that must be done. During these two weeks, I have done both office work and manual labor. And of course, I have been helping out with the different groups and the liturgical responsibilities during the weekdays and on weekends. There are two masses during the week days and every Sunday there are seven Masses, two in English and five in Spanish. This community is very alive and vibrant.
I could continue sharing the many stories I have had so far, but these should give an idea of how my summer apostolic assignment is going so far here at Saint Vincent de Paul Parish in Los Angeles, CA. It is a very lovely and welcoming community, and there is no doubt of just how much I am enjoying this experience.
Please pray for me, as I continue my journey in my formation.
My God bless you all,
Luis Romero, C.M.
Luis Romero is a 32-year-old Vincentian seminarian originally from Hempstead, New York. Luis enjoys travelling, listening to music and watching movies. A graduate of St. John’s University in Jamaica, New York, Luis entered seminary formation in 2008 and will begin his Theology III year in August 2017.
“I am very attracted by the Vincentian mission of serving Christ in the poor. Being a part of the Congregation of the Mission helps me to meet people where they are at and accompany those in most need.”
Please pray for the soul of Mr. Yohanes Ariesyanto, father of Fr. Antonius Kurniawan, C.M., who died yesterday in Surabaya-Indonesia at 71 years of age. Fr. Kurniawan is assigned by the Indonesian Province to work at St. Thomas Aquinas Parish in South Philadelphia. ...
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