What initially was a Friday evening Holy Hour aimed at reuniting pilgrims who attended World Youth Day in Kraków this past summer, became a night that brought together a variety of people from around the diocese. Pilgrims and non-pilgrims alike gathered at the Immaculate Conception Center, Douglaston, for an hour in solemn prayer before the Blessed Sacrament.
About 30 parishioners reunited to remember their experiences last summer and to give thanks for its effects.
Wendy Caceres, who experienced Adoration with millions of other young Catholics in Kraków, explained that now when she spends an hour with Jesus with friends from her home parish, St. Bartholomew, Elmhurst, it has become even more special.
“It is more personal, more intimate,” said Caceres. “I’m not saying it wasn’t there (in Poland), but here it feels more like …it’s just you and Jesus. Over there, it was Jesus with all of them. It feels the same, the connection is the same, but at the same time, it’s a little different.”
She explained that it wasn’t until they ventured to Europe together that she and her fellow parishioners sealed a foundation that made them family.
“God brought us to Europe to become like what we are now, closer to one another, to be a family that He wants us to be and to be apostles, messengers,” said Caceres as she smiled to her friends, “and to tell other people ‘hey Holy Hour is fun, going to church is fun, let’s do it together, why not, look at us. We’re friends and we do a lot of things together. We do things that other people are doing, but why not do it with the people who are sharing the same faith as you are?’”
The night symbolized a united journey in one’s faith through sharing praise and worship together. Singer Alverlis helped lead the night through song and started the evening by intoning “Holy Spirit.”
Deacon John Hwang led the benediction as the Blessed Sacrament became the evening’s central focus. A reverent silence filled the chapel as the Eucharist illuminated spirits brighter than the candles could even possibly reach.
The invitation to spend time with Christ even brought a young man who attended Holy Hour for the first time. It turned out God might have been calling Him toward reflection and into His love.
“I had a little rough patch this month,” said Aaron Derose, from Our Lady of the Snows, North Floral Park.
Deacon Hwang, who preached the homily, shared with the congregation that while he wasn’t able to attend World Youth Day in Kraków, he still was able to walk with Christ and fellow Catholics during a recent pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago. The Camino or ‘walk’ is a pilgrimage route to the shrine of the apostle St. James the Great in northwestern Spain. That month-long expedition allowed him to reflect more on his life and his vocation to the priesthood.
That pilgrimage led him to complete college, join the Army, find a job, but still say ‘yes’ when God called him to serve. As he prepares for priestly ordination this June, his words dwelled on one’s personal relationship with God.
“The point is, we all are on the journey and the thing is, how can we encounter God, how can we know God is calling us?”