Almost every evening in the last two weeks, Bishop Ryan Jimenez and the priests of the diocese went from parish to parish listening to the confessions of the parishioners as the diocese and the faithful commemorates the Lenten season and prepares to enter into the Holy Week.
In previous years, the diocese has conducted its Come Back to Life Lente Retreat by inviting inspirational speakers from off-island who would do talks and reflection with the youths and parishioners in the Cathedral, including a talk with the inmates at the Department of Correction. In the last two years, Bishop Ryan and the clergy tried a different approach by conducting the Lente Retreat by cluster parishes. This approach led to a greater participation of the parishioners in their respective cluster parishes who would not normally go to the Cathedral to attend the Lenten talks. For this year, Bishop Ryan instructed the priests to conduct the Lenten retreats and Penance services in their respective parishes to give opportunity for each pastor to be more involve directly in the retreat instead of inviting someone from off-island as guest speaker.
Fr. James Balajadia organized three sessions of Lenten talk for St. Jude’s parishioners on the first three Thursdays of Lent after the Mass and St. Jude devotion. The first session was on the Pillars of Lenten Observance: Prayer, Fasting, and Almsgiving. Fr. James spoke on the significance of these three actions in ones lives as disciples. The second talk was a gospel reflection on the Third Sunday of Lent’s gospel: ‘Jesus and the woman at the well’. Fr. James explained that, “We are that Samaritan woman, we thirst for many things and sometimes try to quench our thirst through things like money, ego, pride, sin etc… Only Jesus can truly satisfy our thirst.” The last talk was on the Eucharist as Real Presence, Sacrifice, and Meal. “At every mass Jesus is truly present, he feeds us with the sacred meal of His Body and Blood, and we recall His loving and saving sacrifice on the cross”, says Fr. James.
In the parish of Kristo Rai, Fr. Ken Hezel organized a series of Lenten reflections on various topics on the Wednesdays of Lent. Fr. James did the first two talks, Fr, Neil Bullos did the third reflection and Fr. Ken did the last Wednesday
In San Vicente, Fr. Jason Granado reflected last Wednesday on the different characters mentioned in the account of the Passion of Christ and invited the parishioners to identify themselves into the different characters so that they can truly make the reading of the Passion part of their lives as we prepare to enter Holy Week.
Ministry of reconciliation
The celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation is one of the highlights of Come Back to Life Lenten retreat and this year, instead of having one single Penance service in the Cathedral, each parish had the Confession available in every church. In each parish, many faithful took advantage of the occasion and was assisted by many priests who helped each parish.