Friday, September 10, 2010

8th Grade retreat day

The school term has begun and my first involvement with the Father Marquette Schools was with a retreat for 8th-graders (pictured above with their class teachers Heather Anderson and Mary Friggins) held yesterday at St Michael's Church. For my British readers, 8th graders are normally aged 13/14. It's their last year at Catholic school as there is no Catholic High School in Marquette. So it's an important year for them. Father Ben Hasse, the Associate Pastor of St Michael's, and I took it in turns to give presentations and lead discussion.

The morning included a time of adoration before the Blessed Sacrament - we were totally taken aback at the number of youngsters who wanted to go to Confession during that time. The plan was for me to lead some guided meditation before the Blessed Sacrament while Father Ben made himself available for those who might want to go to Confession. I soon realised why there were so few joining in the prayers I was leading - most of the youngsters had gone to the confession area. So I helped as well but we didn't have time to provide for everyone. It was very encouraging - and a lesson for us in planning for future events like this.

The day ended with a simple said Mass in which all participated with respect and reverence. It was the memorial of St Peter Claver, the Jesuit who left Spain in 1610 to travel to Cartagena, Colombia, to minister to the African slaves.

He was known for his care for the slaves, not only when they arrived, but also when they were in their places of work, providing things that they might need and also things that might provide some pleasure and relief, including tobacco and brandy. Apparently he coverted 300,000 to the Christian faith.

You can read more at Catholic Online and American Catholic which gives the following quote:

Peter Claver understood that concrete service like the distributing of medicine, food or brandy to his black brothers and sisters could be as effective a communication of the word of God as mere verbal preaching. As Peter Claver often said, "We must speak to them with our hands before we try to speak to them with our lips."


  1. Good work, Fr. John! To help you become bilingual in American and English, as I now am - it is the school "semester." By next year, you will be saying "hood, trunk, gas, and flashlight."

  2. I have a feeling it's going to be hard getting him to give up that GMC when he goes back to England. He'll be constantly thinking of all that legroom.


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