Young Adults Deepen Relationship With God, Peers at ‘Restore: Mercy’

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Alyzza Reyes left Restore: Mercy with a better understanding of mercy and motherhood.

Ms. Reyes, a 24-year-old parishioner of St. Raymond in the Bronx, was one of more than 80 young adults to participate in the daylong gathering sponsored by the archdiocesan Young Adult Outreach Office at Mount St. Mary College in Newburgh April 27.

“Understanding that although we do fall into sinning or just do not follow the correct path, God will always have love and acceptance for us,” Ms. Reyes, one of four College of Mount St. Vincent students attending Restore: Mercy, told CNY.

The event featured morning talks, “The Universal Call to Holiness as the Universal Call to Mercy by Matthew Breslin, a seminarian at St. Joseph’s Seminary, Dunwoodie, and “The Celebration of Mass as the Prayer of Mercy,” by Sister Marie Pappas, C.R., director of religious education at St. Columba parish in Hopewell Junction and a program host on The Catholic Channel, SiriusXM satellite radio.

Afternoon workshops preceded confessions and Mass celebrated by Father Chris Argano, director of vocations for the archdiocese.

“Divine Mercy is not something Jesus has given us alone,” said Father Argano in remarks during his talk and homily. “Mercy is the very meaning of God, and Jesus is the face, the sacrament, the icon of that mercy.”

Dinner and a panel discussion followed Mass, and Father Argano served as moderator.

Alexandra Sullivan, a parishioner of St. Kateri Tekakwitha in LaGrangeville, attended with her husband, John, and children, Samantha, 8, John, 6, and Matthew, 3. She was a panelist at the dinner discussion and speaker at the workshop on “Femininity and Motherhood: Mercy, Truth, Beauty and Power,” with Sister Marie Pappas.

“Since I was speaking to a younger crowd, and many who were not mothers yet, I was hoping when they do reach that point in their life they have a new perspective on motherhood, focusing on motherhood being a gift and a mercy from God, and focusing on how we get to experience love of the Father through our children’s love,” Ms. Sullivan, 38, told CNY.

Ms. Reyes said the talk gave her a better understanding of motherhood and her own mother.

“Just to see her get emotional while she was giving her speech, and understanding that we don’t love moms because of what they do, we love them because they give us unconditional love,” she said.

“It’s up to us to make sure we also show that we love them in order for them to do all they can for us by the end of the day.”

Luigi Manente, Hudson Valley regional coordinator for the Young Adult Outreach Office, organized the fourth annual event and said the topic was fitting because Restore: Mercy took place on the weekend of Divine Mercy Sunday. The conference’s purpose is for young adults to strengthen their relationship with God and with each other, he said.

“The people here are very engaged and have been getting so much out of the talks. People are coming up to me to talk about the different experiences they’ve had and the affirmations they’ve received for their prayer life. It’s been a fruitful and blessed day.

Manente said he hopes participants can “develop a deeper relationship with Christ, that He becomes more prominent in their life. They take a step back from the day’s struggles, and even the great things that happen, and settle themselves in quiet to reflect on the love and mercy God has for them.”

Dom Russo, a parishioner of St. Joseph’s, Middletown, was attending his second conference and said he heard a call to his vocation one year ago. He’s applying to St. Joseph’s Seminary, Dunwoodie, and hopes to be ordained a priest.

“It was a powerful experience last year and I decided to come back,” said Russo, 22. “The community is great. It’s so overwhelming to see how many young Catholics there are out there. To have friends who are centered in Christ and the Eucharist, it’s something you can’t really put into words. It’s so important to have those types of relationships.”

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