Fr. Michael Pace places the monstrance on the altar of St. Benedict’s Church in preparation for eucharistic adoration at the youth ministry-run event called The Visitation. Photo by Juliana De Francesco

Salesian parish offers fresh spin on encounters with Christ

By  Darren Pereira, Youth Speak News
  • January 11, 2013

TORONTO - A new inspirational project has been launched by St. Benedict’s youth ministry.

“The Visitation” is a reference to the many ways through which someone encounters Christ. Each evening focuses on this encounter with a different perspective and provides a time of prayer, reflection and communal entertainment.

In addition to drawing together members of different ministries within St. Benedict’s parish, the Visitation gives participants an encounter with Christ in the Blessed Sacrament and ideas to ponder as they journey in faith after the evening.

For the first Visitation on Dec. 14, members of St. Benedict’s youth ministry and regular parishioners of all ages gathered in the Salesian-run parish in prayer and reflection on the theme of “The Annunciation” and its implications on their lives. The Visitation takes place every second Friday of the month, continuing on Jan. 11 with the theme of “The Epiphany.”

This kind of event was originally launched a few years ago by the Salesians of Don Bosco in Stony Point, N.Y., before being recreated in Toronto. At St. Benedict’s, the evening consisted of eucharistic adoration, confession, testimonies, prayers and praise and worship music, followed by socializing and recreation in the parish basement afterwards.

“We ask Jesus to come visit us through adoration of the Blessed Sacrament,” said Foster Kwon, the youth ministry co-ordinator. “There’s a chance for others to come visit us at St. Benedict’s. The word ‘visitation’ takes on so many different meanings.”

He also noted the particular emphasis on eucharistic adoration.

“I think the youth in our community are used to Mass, but for most people, adoration is a new experience for them. (The Visitation) will be a fresh spin on a very traditional practice. What I hope is it will give them an opportunity to grow closer to Christ.”

Fr. Michael Pace, pastor at St. Benedict’s, also realizes the importance of adoring the Blessed Sacrament during the Visitation, especially for the youth that are present.

“When we make the Eucharist the source and summit of our lives, we give God permission to go beyond our wildest hopes and expectations,” Pace said. “I hope The Visitation will give everyone, especially the young, a still moment in the frenzied pace of life when they can recognize God’s gentle stirrings within their hearts.”

John Rugosi, the Salesian Youth Movement Animator at St. Benedict’s, was part of the core planning team that started preparing for the launch back in September.

“(Preparing others for Advent) is one of the big focuses of this,” Rugosi said. “The theme itself is ‘The Annunciation,’ so it’s the initial announcing of Christ’s coming into the world. The very nature of adoration is encountering the Word made flesh.”

Kwon also explained the reason for choosing “The Annunciation” during the season of Advent.

“It’s an explicit reminder that Jesus is coming.”

Although the parish was in darkness, multiple candles were lit and stationed on the altar around the Blessed Sacrament, calling to mind Jesus’ coming as “the light of the world” (Jn 8:12). A musical team of youth sang, played guitar and drummed on the djembe, providing a moving melodic undertone. With a testimony from April Cabaccang, a candidate for the Salesian Sisters, the Gospel reading of the Annunciation and other prayers before the Blessed Sacrament, there were themes of vocational discernment and saying yes to God’s call.

Enthused and energized by an evening full of grace, many of the attendees moved to the parish basement to take part in “Mamma’s House,” a time of fellowship and recreation. The area buzzed with projectors and screens, video game consoles, a large variety of board games and a table of snacks. Rugosi, Kwon and Pace were deeply satisfied with the result.

“(The Visitation) is a way of seeing that Christ is still alive,” Kwon said. “Anybody reading this article should not hesitate to join us for the next Visitation.”

(Pereira, 17, is a Grade 12 student at Brebeuf College School in Toronto, Ont.)


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