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Imperial Valley young adults gather for Advent retreat


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By Roman Flores

BRAWLEY — Amid the low sounds of nearby perched, cooing pigeons and other neighborhood noises, faithful young adults from the Imperial Valley gathered to adore a small holy Host in a golden monstrance.

This was the scene during Eucharistic adoration at the Imperial Valley Young Adult Ministry’s one-day Advent retreat, held outdoors Nov. 14 on the school soccer field at Sacred Heart Parish in Brawley.

The IVYAM held the retreat as an opportunity for locals to come together as a community to prepare for Advent, said Patrick Rivera, director of the diocesan Office for Young Adult Ministry.

Rivera said that, for young adults, the retreat served as a way not only to prepare for Advent but also to come together in person, spend time together and receive a spiritual rejuvenation from the sacraments and from being in the presence of Christ, “which is so needed right now.”

“Everything is online or on your phone, in Zoom meetings and whatnot, and this just gave us an opportunity to put some of those things to flesh,” Rivera said.

The event consisted of Mass, talks on Advent, small group reflections, personal testimony, Eucharistic adoration with praise and worship, confession, meals and breaks for social time. Participants wore face masks, used hand sanitizer and observed social-distancing protocols.

The retreat saw young adult leaders in the Valley coming together to serve their peers.

“The young adults and the laity in gen-eral here are so appreciative and willing to serve because they have the heart of the Father,” Rivera said.

“A key moment for me was getting to hear Brianah (Wong)’s testimony,” he said. “She talked about leaving and then feeling God calling her back home, and there’s something to be said about that.”

“So often, people want to do big, grandiose things and God’s like, ‘No, just be faithful to that 5- or 10-mile radius or to that county as you open your hearts to Me,’” Rivera said. “I think it was just so cool to see how much of what’s hap-pened here has been through (Brianah) and her sister Summer and other young adults’ investments in the faith and being open to God.”

“I thought it was so joyful,” Pamela Poe, associate director of the Office for Young Adult Ministry, said after the event.

“There were a lot of laughs but also some really deep sharing of faith, and that’s always just so edifying for our office,” she said. “I think so much of it is just the fruit of the Church here in the Valley, so we’re very grateful.”

Brianah Wong, young adult coordinator for the Imperial Valley, said early feedback on the event from local young adults indicated that they needed this sort of outlet, time together and time apart with God to reflect on their lives and spiritual growth.

“It was fun, very spiritual,” retreat attendee Sergio Campos Jr. of Calexico said. “I really loved the adoration and the music. I really liked the testimony of Brianah Wong and the explanation Father Ed (Horning, pastor of the Catholic Communities of Brawley & Westmorland) did about Advent.”

Wong described the event as “a blessing” and “a reminder that we’re a Church that is a family and we’re young adults that will never stop needing a community.”


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