Some members of my family and I spent a delightful evening with the Legionaries of Christ in Thornwood, NY. We had been invited to their annual Appreciation Mass and Dinner.
Thornwood, NY is in beautiful Westchester County. The drive over the Tappan Zee Bridge was in itself worth the trip.
The Legionaries are now in the old IBM facility which is not only huge but beautifully situated on over 200 acres of ground.
Upon arrival we were greeted by the brothers. These young men are all happy, friendly and filled with joy. We were made to feel at home immediately. We chatted with several of them prior to Mass. Confession was also made available to those of us who wanted to partake of this important and necessary sacrament.
Mass was held in their chapel.
The Mass was one of the most beautiful ones I have ever attended. The rector, Fr. Javier Castro, L.C. was the main celebrant and with him were approximately 5 or 6 co-celebrants.
This was the first time I had attended the celebration of the Holy Mass where it was celebrated in both English and Latin. Thanks to Magnificat, we followed along easily.
The brothers also formed the choir of heavenly voices raised to Heaven with Easter hymns.
At Holy Communion, we were able to receive the Body of Christ on our kneels. That was the second time that day that my mom and I received Holy Communion on our knees. The first was at daily Mass at St. Stephens, Paterson that morning.
God's presence is strongly felt in that place.
Afterward, we were attended a short talk by Fr. John Conner, L.C. about he missionary work of the fathers and brothers. We also watched a short film regarding their mission. There was also a brief question and answer period with Fr. John Conner, L.C. and Fr. John B. who was in the film we had watched. I learned a lot about their mission, Regnum Christ (you may be familiar with them from the daily resolutions I post here) and vocations to the priesthood.
Then it was off to dinner. I didn't know what to expect but I was thinking a buffet style dinner, etc. was in store.
Not so. We entered a beautiful dining room with the table set for company. A brother sat with each table to keep us company while we ate. We sat with Brother Daniel, one of the brothers who had previously been to my parent's home a year or so earlier.
While some of the brothers chatted with the guests, the rest of the brothers served us dinner. They were gracious and well-mannered young men. My sister and I felt a little uncomfortable having them cater to us. We wanted to make them sit down and relax.
The dinner was exceptionally delicious and prepared by one of the brothers from Italy.
Toward the end of the dinner, some of the brothers entertained us with song and music. They even wrote and sang to us a song of appreciation put to Billy Joel's For the Longest Time.
The evening went so quickly and I'm sure it was because we were having so much fun. We laughed so much with Brother Daniel, Father Patrick (the pastor of my mom's church and good friend of the Legionaries)and the other brothers.
We met several brothers from Mexico and of course, that reminded us to pray for the people of Mexico during this difficult time. One of the brothers from Mexico was also one of the brothers who was serving us. I invited Brother Eloin to sit near us and we chatted together the rest of the evening.
One moment that touched me was when Fr. Castro stood up to thank us. He briefly referred to the scandal involving the Legion's founder. He poignantly added that during difficult times, you know who your friends are. It was clear that this scandal deeply hurt these men and they have truly been suffering through this cross they have to bear.
I asked Brother Daniel why there were no Legionaries in Hawaii. He acknowledged their weren't but being a true missioner, he didn't hesitate at all to volunteer to be the first Legionnaire in Hawaii ;-) In fact, many of them jumped at that chance...wonder why. Ha ha.
We truly felt appreciated that evening. But in reality, we have a lot to be grateful to these young men of God. I hope you keep them in your prayers as they keep us in theirs.
If you are wondering why I am not posting photos, it is because although I took many photos last evening, this morning, I couldn't find my digital camera. I am asking St. Anthony and the Blessed Mother to help me find my camera.