This past weekend the staff and leadership team of St Mary Gate of Heaven Parish in Ozone Park, NY celebrated a two day retreat on the parish property. The goal of the retreat was to give some of the men who are involved in different parish ministries an opportunity for prayer and reflection. It is a model that has been used in many parishes of the local diocese.
Our parish began preparation in March of 2014 for this first weekend’s retreat. Each of the talks was given by the men who were making the retreat experience. There were about 45 men who participated this weekend and they represent the great diversity of the parish. Some of the men have lived here their whole lives; others are newly arrived to the community. There were men from the US but also from Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, El Salvador, Ecuador, Argentina, Italy, and Guyana. They represent some of the faculty of the parish school; the parish staff; music ministers; deacons; and a few men who came because they want to begin to serve more closely in their parish community.
Now, in two weeks’ time, there will be a similar retreat for women who are involved in the ministry of the parish. That group is expected to be at least twice as large as the men’s group. After the retreats there will a series of continued meetings and workshops so that planning and preparation can be made for the next few years in the life of the parish.
The Montfort Missionaries founded the parish in 1904 to serve newly arrived immigrants. Today, the community is still present and still seeking to meet the needs of our brothers and sisters who have arrived in the US from other countries, especially as they begin to form their families as Catholics in the United States. Father Jim Brady presided at the closing liturgy in English and Spanish.
-- Ozone Park, NY 15 September