Catholic Sentinel photos by Rick Keating
Youths pray during closing Mass of the retreat.
Catholic Sentinel photos by Rick Keating
Youths pray during closing Mass of the retreat.

TURNER — In an atmosphere of peace, prayer and fraternity, young Hispanic Catholics gathered here last month for a retreat meant to set them on the road to Easter and strengthen their connection to their faith.

At the closing Mass, Archbishop Alexander Sample invited the youths to "make time for God, among all our distractions with iPhones and social media." Archbishop Sample says he is an iPhone and Facebook user as well, but makes time for
prayer and sustaining a relationship with God.  

The event was organized by the Archdiocese of Portland's Hispanic Ministry Office under the direction of Raul Velazquez. Topics included losing connection with the church and reconnecting, presented by Armando Cervantes of the Diocese of Orange, Calif. Lili Flores of the Diocese of Las Vegas spoke to teens about their role models and Father Peter Arteaga of St. Matthew Parish in Hillsboro helped youths analyze their values. Cervantes also asked teens if their choices are building or destroying them and offered tools for discernment.  

This event was held at Aldersgate Conference Center and welcomed about 280 young people from 11 parishes across Oregon.

"We are pleased that this event has gradually grown. This reflects the Hispanic presence in our parishes," Velazquez says. "This event aims to provide a space for young Hispanics to have an experience of encounter with the Lord Jesus."

Velazquez hopes the experience will encourage them to live their baptismal vocation and be more committed to themselves, their families and their parish communities.

"Young Hispanics need to have a space that allows them to regain their cultural identity and feel proud of their roots, so they can integrate into their communities," Velazquez says.