|2/29/2012 12:17:00 PM|
FBYC - A Special Place
The Most Reverend John G. Vlazny, Archbishop of Portland in Oregon, is pleased to announce the following:
Reverend Antipas Msamire, ALCP, appointed Parochial Vicar at St. Joseph Parish, Salem, effective February 18, 2012.
— Mary Jo Tully
|Most Rev. John Vlazny|
Archbishop Emeritus of Portland
Several years have passed since the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council established a greater outreach to youth and young adults as a pastoral priority of the Catholic Church here in western Oregon. At the time, we were in the midst of all the harsh realities of scandal and bankruptcy. I wondered how the Catholic people of this archdiocese would begin to implement that priority. Some folks were entertaining a dream of building a retreat center for young people. They wanted it to be a special place for prayer and personal growth. Eventually, on Jan. 17, 2006, I was invited to dedicate the Father Bernard Youth Center, (FBYC) in Mount Angel.
Why Father Bernard? Well, Father Bernard Sander, OSB, the third of eleven children to the late Neil and Teresa Sander of Tillamook, was an inspiration to countless folks across the archdiocese. He became a priest in 1944 and was loved and respected as a man of ideals and action. His special way with young people moved the founders of FBYC to name this brand new spiritual oasis for the young after him. Among the very first people to step forward and provide practical and financial support to the center was our own auxiliary bishop at the time, Bishop Kenneth Steiner.
Now, almost six years after the dedication of FBYC, more and more people are taking advantage of this opportunity to hang out with the Lord. Back in 2006, FBYC welcomed 1,057 guests. The number has increased steadily every year, reaching 2,797 in 2012. Fortunately, over the years more and more donors have stepped forward to support this important Catholic initiative in the Willamette Valley. The average donation has declined because of hard economic times. But the increase in the number of benefactors who see youth ministry as something extremely important for the future of our church is heartwarming, to say the least. Nearly 1,000 donors responded to the needs of the center in fiscal year 2010-11.
So what really happens at FBYC? The folks at FBYC say that “our mission is simple, to provide a sacred, safe place where young people may encounter Christ in time spent away from e-mail, social media sites, cell phones, and even some friends, to be still and listen for Christ!” The major focus, of course, is a retreat experience for young people. That’s the reason FBYC exists. But the center also hosts programs that include sacramental preparation, such as confirmation and marriage preparation, youth gatherings, veterans’ retreats, community service projects, service retreats and camps, artist and musician camps, vocations discernment and even a spring gathering of archdiocesan seminarians with me.
Sometimes folks wonder whatever happened to the sacrament of reconciliation since few people seem to go to Confession anymore these days. Well, that’s not true at a FBYC retreat. There you won’t be surprised to find 20, 30, 40 or 50 young people waiting their turn to have the Lord forgive their sins in that very special sacramental encounter. Many of our parishes and schools have taken advantage of the site for retreats of young people. Nearby parishes from the Archdiocese of Seattle have also benefitted from FBYC, as have some ecumenical friends from Bellevue, Wash.
The center was originally constructed in 1960 as a college convent on the campus of Mount Angel College, owned and operated by the Benedictine Sisters whose monastery is still adjacent to FBYC. A real jewel of the facility is the beautiful St. Anthony’s Chapel, capable of seating 130 people. There is also an adoration chapel behind the tabernacle where the Blessed Sacrament is reserved in a heart shaped monstrance symbolizing the wounded heart of Christ. Eucharistic adoration is becoming increasingly popular with young people as an opportunity to be with the Lord and experience his healing and loving presence.
The center also includes a great fireside room, designed to be a theatre-like space with plush seating for 60 attendees. There is a commercial-style kitchen for food preparation with an adjoining great room which serves as a dining hall and activity area. The capacity of the great room is 200 people with round table seating for 120. Overnight lodging for retreat goers is in Marmion Hall located just across the street.
What do the young people themselves have to say about FBYC? Let me share a few reactions from the youth around western Oregon:
“Had an encounter with the Lord. I found myself.”
“The chapel makes you feel that God is with you. I love this place.”
“I built a stronger relationship with God and learned so much about my religion. It was a wonderful time and I hope I will be able to come back soon.”
“This is a great place to be with God.”
“The adoration chapel, in particular, was a huge blessing. It was great to be able to put ourselves in Christ’s presence whenever we needed it!”
Well, friends, there you have it. The FBYC is alive and well and needs our support. I am hoping we can send some financial support their way this year from funds collected in the 2012 Archbishop’s Catholic Appeal. Reaching out to our young people happens here with the help of FBYC. FBYC leadership is looking for some special sponsors and parish pledges. The FBYC is hosting a Winter Auction Gala entitled “Springtoberfest” to be held March 10, at the new Festhalle in Mount Angel. Even though I shall be away on pilgrimage to the Holy Land at that time, I certainly want to support that important event and invite all of you to do the same.
For most people, we yearn for a meaningful encounter with Christ. That’s what happens at the FBYC. Thanks, Father Bernard.
Memories of your outreach to youth inspire us and we pray that this special place for prayer and personal growth will inspire our young people to live closer to Christ and to one another.