Shalom New York organized its first Life in the Spirit Seminar and the experience went beyond expectations


The Retreat took place from July 16 to 18 in the Loyola Jesuit Center in New Jersey. The weekend was filled with moments of praise and worship, adoration, talks, sharing in groups, mass celebrations and games. Everything was full of blessings, even the breaks were a great opportunity to make friends and get to know one another.

“The Level Up retreat was a powerful inspiring experience. There aren’t enough words to describe it. I had a personal encounter with the Holy Spirit and it was such a great feeling.” says one of the participants.

In an interview Father Cristiano says that the Shalom New York mission was not expecting to make a retreat like this, because of the pandemic, it was not in their plans to make something in person, but as they were seeing the numbers of people who were fully vaccinated increasing, two months before the retreat they discerned to make the retreat, fixed the date and focused mainly on young adults. From a moment of personal prayer he heard God saying “if you have just a little strength concentrate this strength in the youth, in the young adults. And that’s when the Lord gave us the inspiration to make the retreat in a retreat house focusing on young adults.” 

The priest highlights that this retreat was not just organized by the missionaries of Shalom Community, but also with New Yorkers. The idea for the name of the retreat “Level up”, for instance, came from a young adult born and raised in NYC. In this case the title would also mean “to go to a higher level, to go heavenwards, to go to the level of God’s will for our lives which is holiness”, says Father Cristiano. 

There were around 35 participants, coming from different areas of New York and New Jersey. There was a great diversity among them, which ended up turning that experience into a new Pentecost. There were people originally from the U.S. and other 10 countries from different continents. Father Cristiano, local responsible of Shalom Community in New York, shares that he and the missionaries were surprised with the turnout of the retreat, as the mission is still in its period of foundation, he says “Only God can do this! Only He can create something out of nothing!”.

Many young adults were joining a Life in the Spirit Seminar for the first time and they testify that the retreat met and went beyond their expectations. ”The experience was unbelievable, amazing, beautiful, life-changing, heart-opening, Spirit-filled, Christ-centered, out of my comfort zone, above my past, and a whole lot of fun! The charismatic aspect was completely new to me, as was really opening my heart up to trusting Christ with my life”, says Daniel Lysak, who was joining a Life in the Spirit Seminar for the first time.

On the other hand, there were also some young adults who had already joined a retreat like this before, but who were also touched by God in a new way as Stephanie, for example, who has been part of Shalom for about one year. She says: This Charismatic Retreat was not a new experience for me, however some of my encounters during the retreat were new for me. The healing prayer, some of the topics of the talks, the encounter I had with the Holy Spirit were all a new experience for me.”

Moments of prayer and talks

Most of the participants share that their strongest experiences during the retreat were during the moments of adoration, prayer, mass celebration and effusion of the Holy Spirit. “Attending the masses, adorations and talks as a group is something that will always stand out, especially when Father Cristiano and the missionaries individually prayed for us during Adoration and the Effusion of the Holy Spirit. All of Father Cristiano’s sermons were strong moments, but I would also say that I obtained a lot from the talks that were led by the missionaries. They reminded us that to be Holy is to love without fear. That leveling up is a step closer to being who we really are and who God made us to be, and that the greatest acquisition in Christian life is to acknowledge the Holy Spirit.” says William Lezama who was joining a Life in the Spirit Seminar for the first time.

John, who has been joining Shalom Prayer groups in Brooklyn for about 5 months, says the experience was wonderful and the most special moments for him were the adoration with music and the musical “The Song of the Irias”, he concludes saying “God was working in everyone there in every moment, in every time God was present and working”.

Yet talking about adoration, Yvette shares her experience, “my strongest moments were doing adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. I have grown up going to adoration with my mom, but during this weekend, adoration was a transformative experience. I left feeling a deep sense of peace.” As it was her first time in a Life in the Spirit seminar, she says “I was surprised by how lively and joyful the Seminar was. I am so glad that I was able to attend.”

The Effusion of the Holy Spirit is one of the most important moments of the retreat and Father Cristiano testifies the fruits of this moment “what surprised me the most was the joy of the group after the effusion of the Holy Spirit, it was like a genuine and enthusiastic joy of people who were really filled with the Holy Spirit. As the Acts of the Apostles say ‘they were all filled with the Holy Spirit’, we could see that in their eyes, in their smiles, people who weren’t very smiley at the beginning of the retreat and who ended up with a huge smile on their lips.” Stephanie and Katherine, who were participating in the retreat agree saying “I really loved the Effusion of the Holy Spirit and the Healing Prayer. I truly was moved by the opportunity to pray over the missionaries of the community. It was so powerful for me. I am blessed for this opportunity” and “the strongest moment by far was the Effusion of the Holy Spirit.”

For Daniel the most striking moments “were everything from being prayed over by the missionaries to praise and worship, and really just letting myself be vulnerable with Christ in adoration like I had never done before in life.”

The participants had a spontaneous initiative to pray the rosary together each day of the retreat, even being tired they felt moved to be together to pray more, some of them testify this experience as one of the most remarkable moments of the retreat. Daniel and William agree that “one of the strongest moments was when a group of us decided to pray the rosary together but in different languages. It felt like a reenactment of Pentecost.” 

Making community

The retreat had been a great opportunity to make new friends, share life experiences and encounter God in the others. The moments of dancing together, the meal breaks, the sharing in groups really helped and everyone felt involved, as William says “I really enjoyed getting the chance of making new connections and new friends. Whether it was the team games or the pizza party it was great to hear people’s stories and how their faith has transformed their lives. I had an idea I would meet new people, but I had no idea I would come out of the retreat with a community of friends. Like they say, alone we can go faster, together we can go farther.”

“The Seminar gave me the opportunity to connect with other young adults who are actively living and seeking to strengthen their faith. I have heard about this type of Seminar before but have never experienced it. I am so glad that I was able to attend“, says Yvette, a young adult from Brooklyn.

All participants and missionaries of the Shalom Community rejoice for the great fruits of the experience of the Holy Spirit in their lives that go beyond words.


To know more about the Shalom Catholic Community in the Diocese of Brooklyn, New York, you can visit their instagram: @shalomnewyork , facebook Shalom New York, or send an email to


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