“Loving Presence”

It has been just over a month since we arrived in St. Anthony of Padua parish in Vancouver. As more time has passed, the ministry has started to take on a more steady rhythm. Our ministry has consisted of meeting parishioners before and after masses, spending time with students in their classrooms and outside of class at youth nights as well as forming relationships with the families we have been hosted by. It’s been amazing to witness the Lord working through all the opportunities we have encountered so far!

In mid-November, we hosted our first youth night, a big kick-off night as we like to call it. The night consisted of an amazing race-style event, with timed challenges for each team of about five-ish youth. We spent the previous weeks leading up to it, preparing accommodations, decorations, and advertising. There were a few hiccups, but surprisingly even through the challenges, the night proved to be very fruitful. The Holy Spirit was certainly at work that night! Afterward, we received feedback from some of the students’ parents telling us how much fun their children had had and how they did not want to leave the school that evening. It was beautiful to witness the fellowship that ensued after the initial challenges were finished!

Our ministry at the three schools, St. Patrick Secondary, St. Anthony of Padua’s elementary, and Little Flower Academy, has been blossoming. Our relationship with the students have been growing through classroom presentations, helping them with their school projects, and small group discussions. At Little Flower Academy, we did a classroom presentation on Adoration where we talked about Eucharistic miracles. We brought the students to the chapel where we explained that the eucharist is the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ; it’s not just a symbol but actually the presence of Jesus. The students had time to sit and pray in the presence of God, they described their experience as very peaceful and calming.

St. Anthony of Padua elementary school had confession available at the parish for the students. John brought a group of grade six students to the adoration chapel where he had the following experience:

“Today I was asked to supervise a group of grade 6 students and to bring them to the parish’s adoration chapel. None of them had been to adoration before, so I told them some ways they could pray in front of the Eucharist. I recommended that they talk to Jesus about their day and their struggles and that they rest in His presence. We prayed for about 20 minutes and I was impressed with their attentiveness! 

Afterward, I asked if any of them had felt the presence of God. Most of them said yes, and one girl, in particular, seemed quite surprised. She said, “I literally felt a presence! I’m not a Catholic but I felt a presence near me.” She added, “not gonna lie, that’s the first time I’ve ever felt that.” She also mentioned feeling safe in the adoration chapel. 

It’s amazing what God can do through adoration! In the words of the recently beatified Blessed Carlo Acutis, “if we get in front of the sun, we get suntans… But when we get in front of Jesus in the Eucharist, we become Saints.” I hope this girl’s experience was a step in her path to Sainthood!”

It’s been a blessing to witness the youth in the presence of God. This month has really shown us the importance of being in God’s presence, especially in adoration. I challenge you to sit in the presence of God, don’t say anything, just sit there with him. You will be changed by His overwhelming, loving presence.

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