‘This is beyond necessary” said Charles Orlando, a parishioner at the Immaculata who brought two sons to The Goretti Group’s first father-son retreat, entitled “Warriors of the King”. He continued, “I don’t know of any other venue that’s covering this”. Christina Hernandez, who attended the “Daughters of the King” retreat with her mother, said, “Everyone needs to know this.”
Both retreats were held at Santa Sophia Parish on October 11th, with several dozen mothers and daughters, fathers and sons attending. Designed for 11-14-year-olds and their parents, these single-sex retreats give parents and their young adolescents the opportunity to discuss basic concepts from the Theology of the Body, practical ways to live chastely, and how to think in terms of the plans that God has for their lives, including what their vocations might be.
Said Martha Hernandez, mother of Christina, quoted above, “[We came] because I thought it would be a great thing for my 13-year-old daughter and me to experience, and hopefully bring us closer in our communications about these topics that oftentimes teenagers don’t want to discuss with their parents. The talks are perfect…[they refresh] a lot of the things that I know but we don’t appreciate in our daily lives. Hopefully [the girls] will know how important it is to appreciate and love themselves as much as they should. [This is] very important because of the way our society is nowadays, a lot of the kids don’t realize that their relationship with God comes first.”
Joanne Sanchez, who brought two daughters, said that the retreat gave her “ways to talk to my daughters, to help them see themselves as beautiful.” Her daughter, Ashley, said the retreat, “helped me think about myself in a better way.”
Similar programs were offered in the Diocese of San Diego for 17 years ending in 2011. The organizing committee for those programs was ready to pass the baton and The Goretti Group was approached by Deacon Ralph and Peggy Skiano of the Office for Marriage and Family Life of the Diocese of San Diego to take up these retreats.
The Goretti Group is a movement for people of all ages and states in life seeking to rediscover authentic masculinity & femininity and become witnesses to the joy of pure love. In 2003, Angela Santero was inspired to found The Goretti Group in response to the need to heal the brokenness caused by sexual sin and proclaim the beauty of pure love. Since that time, over 75,000 have heard the message of the healing joy of purity through talks and retreats in dozens of cities nationally and 100s of souls have been trained to give personal witness to the truth about human sexuality.
The group looks forward to offering these retreats on a regular basis, changing locations each time to accommodate the geographical spread of the Diocese.
The day’s talks included: Peggy Skiano and Dr. Paul Santero on Communication Skills; Dr. Henry Ng and Maire Orlando, R.N., explaining the changes of puberty and how they are ordered toward motherhood and fatherhood; Sr. Aurora Lopez-Ornelas and Fr. Pedro Rivera from the Office for Vocations; and young adults from the Goretti Group community on characteristics of a man/woman of God, witness talks, and the perspective of the opposite sex. The girls and moms participated in a Modesty Fashion Contest, using items brought from K’s Discount Fashion in Lakeside, owned by one of the Goretti Group volunteers. After hearing about the “whys” of modesty from the young man’s perspective, they had the opportunity to work on the “hows” of modesty by putting together stylish, modest outfits using real clothes. The sons and dads competed to be the first father-son pair (or trio, or quartet – there was one dad there with three sons) to construct a bridge out of newspaper and duct tape that could support a brick and under which the brick could pass without touching – maintaining total silence throughout the activity, helping them to bond through working together and to think about how they communicate with each other. The retreats also included live music and Question and Answer Panels. Lunch and snacks were provided throughout the day with the help of the Knights of Columbus and Catholic Daughters of America of Santa Sophia Parish. The Junior Catholic Daughters of America of Santa Sophia decorated the hall for the mother-daughter retreat.
Charles Orlando, father of seven, said the program was “comprehensive, easy to digest and understand, and everybody was open to our questions.” His son, Aindriu,13, commented that the day was “fun and informative.”
The Goretti Group presents a monthly gathering every First Friday at Our Lady of the Rosary Parish to which all are welcome, offering Confession, Adoration, Praise and Worship, Mass, veneration of a relic of St. Maria Goretti, and a presentation and fellowship. Through fellowship, formation, prayer and action, the group seeks to ignite and sustain communities of leaders to be living witnesses to God’s spousal love. There are additional Goretti Group chapters on Staten Island and in the San Francisco Bay Area.
If you’d like to get involved as a speaker or volunteer with these retreats, email us at projects(at)thegorettigroup.org.