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Young Marists gathered in Esopus

23/10/2019: United States

From October 11th to October 14th Marist Youth from around the Provinces of the USA and Canada gathered for the LaValla Weekend Experience at the Marist Brothers’ Center at Esopus. This year's annual LaValla Weekend Retreat brought together students from Christopher Columbus High School (Miami, FL), Saint Joseph Academy (Brownsville, TX), Marist High School (Chicago, IL), Marist High School (Bayonne, NJ), Mount Saint Michael Academy (Bronx, NY), Archbishop Molloy High School (Queens), Roselle Catholic High School (Roselle, NJ), and Ecole Secondaire Marcellin Champagnat (Quebec, Canada). The meeting was led by Brothers, Lay Marists, and Marist Educators and also by a dedicated team of Marist Young Adults.

The first day, following dinner, Matt Fallon and Valerie Savino welcomed the group to the property, gave an overview of the weekend, and went over "house rules." The first night of the retreat the group participated in the "mingling of the waters" ritual. Every school group arrived with a bottle filled with water symbolic of their local areas. During the prayer, water from Esopus, the Gier River near l'Hermitage in France, as well as from each school group was poured into a large fountain to symbolize the joint Marist heritage.

The second day in the morning, everyone prayed together. Led by Mrs. Maureen Hagan, the participants started with the Memorare followed by a prayer for the migrants and refugees throughout our world.

As part of their solidarity experience, students spent most of the day Saturday participating in a refugee simulation. They experienced first-hand what migrants and refugees go through during their journey to cross the US/Mexico border, and how they are treated once they have entered the United States.

The third day, following mass, Br. Dan O'Riordan presented the five Marist refugee projects the USA Province will be raising money for this year. Marist Refugee Awareness Week will take place in March, and students were encouraged to return to their schools and share their experience of LaValla weekend with fellow students.

After opportunities for personal reflection time, small & large group processing, the group gathered around a campfire. Matt Fallon entertained the group with stories of Esopus history and legends before roasting marshmallows and relaxing. To wind down from the campfire, everyone gathered in the chapel for a prayer service led by Valerie Savino, Director of Operations at the MBCE.

Mrs. Maureen Hagan and Valerie Savino led the final commissioning ceremony on Monday morning. Each school received a small bottle of water from the fountain of the collective waters from all Marist communities that was gathered during the water-mingling prayer service.

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