On Friday, Oct 13th, a group of Marists from several different communities facilitated a day long retreat for the parish community of Most Blessed Sacrament in Franklin Lakes, NJ. Father John Job, who is parochial vicar there, was the one who made the original connection. Fr John is a graduate of Marist Bayonne, was in the Contact program for a while, served as principal at St. Joseph Regional and then became a priest. When he and the principal discussed a school-wide retreat, he suggested the Marists to conduct it.
As a result, Matt Fallon and Maureen Hagan met with Fr John and Principal Tom Altonjy, and came up with a plan for the day. Ideas were flowing and the plan evolved to include the faculty and parents as well. Quite an undertaking! So the cavalry was called in.
The final team included Matt and Maureen, along with Br John Dunning from St Joe’s, Montvale and Jane Ann Carvalho, Roselle Catholic parent, working with the students; Br Steve Milan, of the Novitiate community, working with the parents, and Br Owen Ormsby, from the Marist Brothers Center at Esopus, working with the faculty. Assistance also came from the Young Adult community in the persons of Tyler Pereira and Christine Edme, graduates of RC and currently students at Kean University. Fourteen students from RC and St Joe’s were the group leaders and assistants in the various activities. Joe Logiudice and Tim Hagan were the agents of recruiting those student helpers. They were, from St. Joe’s: Anthony DelPonte, Scott Dickson, Jack Rajkowski, James Gilhooley, Matt Ranagan, Kieran Woods, and Michael Bloom.
And from RC: Gaby Coimbra, Amy Ferrigno, Amy Cifuentes, Mary Louise Pensalan, Colleen Badalis, Tina Lui, and Noni Johnson.
The theme of the retreat was “Being the Light”. Students and parents explored the ways that God’s love is the light within us, how we share that light, how we nourish that light, and how we can be that light for others. They did this through active games, through a reflective art project, and through watching clips from Moana, followed by small group discussions. The youngest students (K-2 grade), made fireflies after talking about the times when our lights shine quietly. (Thanks to St Joseph Academy in Brownsville for that idea!)
The faculty, in their retreat time with Br Owen, considered finding God in the ordinary. They were challenged to see their school as “holy ground” and to explore what they really wanted to teach their students this year.
The day ended with Mass, celebrated by the Bishop in residence, Most Reverend John W. Flesey. The community heard the Gospel from Matthew – “You are the light of the world.”
And finished with a rousing chorus of “This Little Light of Mine”, led by the Blessed Sacrament school choir.
The entire community – parents, faculty and students left the gym, with the challenge to “Be the Light!”