The Form 4 students of Holy Cross College, Arima, gathered at the nearby Holy Cross chapel March 1 to experience their Lenten retreat organised by the Archdiocese Family Life Commission. The retreat theme was Love in Marriage (Amoris Laetitia, 4).
Allan Julien presented to them on the key role of the man in the context of marriage. He then outlined the positive outcomes in boys when their fathers are physically, emotionally and spiritually engaged with them, and the negative impact that fatherlessness has on sons and daughters.
Over 95 per cent of these 62 young men related to the negative impact of their fathers on their lives and some hoped they never become the type of man their father is. This daunting reality of the collapsed state of fatherhood and the negative impact on our youth has been the common experience in all the schools where this team has conducted this type of retreat.
The students were encouraged strongly to break the ‘blueprint’ of fatherhood they would have experienced at home. It was impressed upon them that the possibility of change could only happen if they seek the grace and strength of God and give Him permission in their lives daily.
A key step in becoming true men and great fathers would lie in the sexual decisions they made now. Jason Jackman presented on the beauty and context of the sexual act in marriage and the bond it was intended to create.
He also highlighted the extreme damage to both men and women caused by the misuse and abuse of this God-given act. Jason gave them real-life examples of how these scars live on in future relationships and cause no end of heart ache and disunity between their fathers and mothers, resulting in many broken homes.
Sadly, many of these young men related they were experiencing just that in their own homes. Again, they were encouraged to make the right decisions now so that they have a much greater chance at happy relationships with their future wives and children.
Finally, the cancer of pornography was presented by Jerome Alexander. Some of these 15-year-olds admitted to being exposed to porn for over five years.
Jerome spoke of his own life experience of the damage this addiction does to a young man, and that only help from God through the Sacrament of Reconciliation and counselling can break the shackles of the addiction. These young men were extremely receptive to the presentation.
The students of Holy Cross College admitted that no men had ever spoken to them like this before; many said they felt both challenged and encouraged. – Allan Julien