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Parishioners Enjoy Service and Fellowship at DeSales Lenten Service Retreat

The three-day retreat included moving and building furniture and throwing a birthday party at Families Moving Forward.

19 parishioners gathered for reflection and service during the three-day DeSales Lenten Service retreat beginning March 30. Service was completed at Families Moving Forward (FMF), a Durham organization that offers housing and support for families experiencing homelessness, as well as variety of other resources for families and individuals in crisis. Holy Infant regularly supports Families Moving Forward through volunteering and donation drives. 

Throughout the retreat, the group returned to the words of St. Francis de Sales, "Since the heart is the source of our actions, as the heart is, so are they." 

"As a group, we prepared our hearts for service and this quote from St. Francis de Sales set the tone for it," said event co-coorindator, Lynn Sale. "As we prepared we remembered that whatever we do, we do for Christ," added event co-cordinator, Lea Chiquito, "We're called to be the hands and feet of Christ."

Thursday and Friday were evening events that set the groundwork for service on Saturday. Participants learned about Peace, Justice and Human Concerns ministries at Holy Infant and about the FMF organization. They discussed Salesian spirituality and spoke on recognizing the need for service in the Durham community; how to, as St. Francis deSales said, "be who are you and be that well." On Friday the group created pages with individual affirmations filled with warm wishes and hopeful messages to give out as party favors during the Saturday service events. 

Saturday, like every retreat day, began with the group praying the St. Francis deSales Direction of Intent prayer, "My God, I give you this day. I offer you, now, all of the good that I shall do and I promise to accept, for love of you, all of the difficulty that I shall meet. Help me to conduct myself during this day in a manner pleasing to you. Amen." This day was the most physically challenging, as most events took place at FMF. 

The group split into several projects, all of which were significant undertakings. Love Anderson, parishioner and retreat participant, planned a birthday party themed, "Aliens Have Invaded from Rainbow Planet" with a message of Happy Birthday and Love. Kids of all ages joyfully went from table to table working on science experiments and enjoyed a special appearance from Mr. Rainbow, the clown. 

During the retreat, FMF received a shipment of 8 sets of metal-framed bunkbeds and 3 full beds, along with mattresses. Groups of retreat participants worked together to move all the old furniture out of rooms to new locations and assembled the new furniture. This prepared 3 family rooms for immediate occupancy. Another group cleaned and sanitized the 5-and-under playroom and toys. 

One retreat participants said,"[My most positive experience of the retreat was] working closely and physically with fellow parishioners, which permitted us to get to know each other on another level."

The retreat concluded with reflection on the day's hard work and the grace of being servants to neighbors in need. 

Retreat participants said "the retreat is a great way to get exposed to a service-sector of Durham that we could continue to serve and meet fellow parishioners" and that they "whole-heartedly believe this is a great way to meet St. Francis de Sales and the real meaning of his thoughts and teachings."