OREM – The Spanish Charismatic group of Saint Francis of Assisi Catholic Parish in Orem held the retreat "Sharing our Lord’s Table" (Compartiendo la Mesa del Señor) from May 11 to May 13.
Father Jorge Eduardo Zárraga Martinez and Sister Blanca Margarita Azpeitia were the retreat’s keynote speakers. They arrived from Tijuana and Baja California, Mexico. Both belong to the Misionera de Jesus y de Maria Order.
The retreat started with a Mass for healing on Friday in which Father David Bittmenn, pastor of St. Francis of Assisi, presided because Fr. Zárraga’s flight was delayed.
People filled the parish to the top and Fr. Bittmenn was very surprised.
"Father [Bittmenn] told us that he wished that we gathered like that more often and not just because we are being invited by another priest," said Sofia Luna, organizer, parishioner and part of the Charismatic group at St. Francis.
Socorro Espinoza, another member of the Charismatic group, said that the purpose of the retreat was because "many families need help, and to spread the Word of our Lord is an emergency." Espinoza said that the group opened the invitation to everybody but unfortunately, "sometimes they don’t come."
The three-day retreat included readings, prayers, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, lectures, movies, a holy hour, and testimonies where the participants shared their stories with each other.
"We think that we have a responsibility to teach the families," Espinoza said. "We have issues with our young people and we have realized that our families need more orientation about the necessity of teaching our children the love of God."
Part of this effort included having a mini-retreat for the kids, which was held at the same time as the adults’ retreat.
Kids were gathered in another room of the parish to hear stories about God, which were told with puppets by Don Esteban, a St. Francis of Assisi parishioner.
"I love God," said Marianela Martinez, an 8-year-old who was among the assistants at the kids’ retreat.
Meanwhile, in the adult retreat, Fr. Zárraga was telling the families the importance of the role of the woman and of the man in each family.
"Let’s talk about four qualities that the man has from God our Father… What’s the meaning of the word Father?… He is the one who leads not in manhood – that’s for the animals – a real man is the one that knows how to be a father, he knows how to take care, how to protect and how to lead," said Fr. Zárraga. "Who do you think represents our Father here in earth?" asked Fr. Zárraga. "Everybody. Humanity itself does."
The retreat concluded on Sunday with a Mass.
"We want to give what we can to the families, but they need to act," said Luna. "As Father said, if we don’t do anything we are missing the opportunity to work in our church."