May 31, 2010


Last weekend, we had a big vigil for Pentecost. Vigils in Chile aren't like those we've attended in the US. When we first arrived to Chile, we were invited to attend a Pentecost vigil. We expected mass and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, for a couple of hours in a silent church. What we got was an all night slumber party. There was singing, dancing, games and food. By the time 8am rolled around, we were dead tired and ready to be home in bed. The kids were still going strong and immediately began asking when the next vigil would be.

The one we had in our parish this year was a compromise, since we are in a Chilean parish, but the two priests and two lay missionaries in charge of the event are all foreigners! Our multicultural version still involved singing, dancing and food. However, we won the battle of time, ending the event at midnight instead of 8am. The youth ministry here really just started when we arrived to the north a couple of years ago. So, this event, which was planned by the youth leaders, was a big success for us. We had a 130 people participate, of all ages, but with a majority of teens. The presence of teens is very attractive to other teens. Events like this serve as great motivators for kids just starting out in the youth groups. They see so many others their age participating - praising God and interested in their faith - that it takes away their own embarrassment and makes it more of a normal process.

We were feeling particularly proud of the kids in our own chapel, since they were participating so well and many of them are brand new to the church. So, last night we took them down to Iquique for a diocesan wide celebration of Pentecost. Again, lots of singing and dancing. However, this time, Anna caught a couple of the kids sneaking off to smoke cigarettes and another couple kissing in a corner, after they had gone off "looking for the bathroom." So, please be assured, our teens are real, with all the annoying things that teens do attached. We're happy to have such a normal bunch to be participating with us and are looking forward to see God transform their lives as they get more involved.

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