On the eve of Pentecost, around the Poveda Center in Miami, one could hear songs, prayers and the laughter of children praying under the rain. Inside, some 50 people, women, men and whole families had gathered to celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit with a Retreat on the topic of the family.
“God is family, God is relationship. We do not choose our family. It is a gift from God”, said Patricia Stockton at the beginning of the retreat, on June 8th. In her presentation she explained the recent process of the TA Assemblies and how one of the priorities for the coming six years is “Committed engagement with the families, agents of social transformation”. This was the reason for having invited many families to celebrate Pentecost as a family and to reflect on the family.
Thania Céspedes, President of ACIT South Florida welcomed everyone and explained what is the Poveda Center and the Teresian Association and to outline the activities of the day.
The event began with a Eucharist presided by Fr. John O´Leary, who invited all present to share about the readings that had been proclaimed or about their experience of Pentecost. The children were also active in the celebration. Four of them proclaimed the Sequence of the Holy Spirit, alternating English and Spanish. And during the songs, each played an instrument thus contributing to a joyful celebration.
At the end of the Mass all danced to the music, unaware that at the touch of a switch, the fans in the ceiling began moving, dropping down petals of paper over everyone, simulating the flames of fire described by the Bible at Pentecost. Three-year old Alvaro Hechevarría danced joyfully and as David did before the Ark, he placed himself in front of the altar, shaking his instrument.
Following the Mass there was time for a presentation and reflection. The children moved to other rooms with Lani Hiponia and Antonia Ruiberriz. They watched a video on the life of Jesus; they sang together and made drawings.
The Spirit builds in un with us
Maria Jose Garmendia led the sharing of the adults using two brief video-clips. One was about the father of a family, recently unemployed; the other was from Pope Francis encouraging families to always forgive and to build solid households.
To help in this ‘construction’ each person was offered a small piece of wood with some instructions. Given that all had received at baptism and confirmation the fruits and the gifts of the Spirit, they were to take a few moments to reflect and write down in the piece of wood what they wanted to contribute in the family or in society. After a few silent moments each got up and presented to the community their commitment laying the piece of wood on the altar.
Celebration... in spite of the rain
The hall was then turned into a dining room and the festive conversation continued at table as they shared a dinner of pasta and salad, prepared by Sebastian and Maria Leblanc. This was the occasion to celebrate birthdays.
It began to rain heavily and as soon as there was an opening in the sky the children were happy to run in the wet grass, playing the games that had been prepared and going into the plastic pool ready for them.
“We had a good time and ended all wet”, said Aida Varela who joined the children “going back to her childhood”. In spite of the rain she was happy with how the whole event went, and she said: “We have to do it again but with sunshine”.
Text: Araceli Cantero, Miami.
Photos: Toni Miranda.