The purpose of the FIRES Sons and Daughters Encounter program is to provide an opportunity for participants – young people in their teens and twenties – to build better relationships with themselves, with their family members and with God.
Topics include: self-determination vs. outside influence, self knowledge, review of relationships within the family, values, vocation, love, faith, relationship with God.
Sons and Daughters Encounter participants are invited to listen to talks by youth team members, who honestly share their lived experiences. The team presentations are followed by periods of quiet reflection and sharing about handout questions. The two-day program includes Holy Mass and prayers led by a Catholic priest.
The program brings about deep changes in the hearts of most participants: it helps them deepen their self knowledge, it encourages them to be honest in communication and sharing, it helps them see the worth of positive thinking and living, it makes them feel how much one needs God in his life.
Started and conducted within the Catholic Church, FIRES Sons and Daughters Encounter is open to non-Catholic or non-Christian youth as well. It is an unforgettable positive experience for both believers and non-believers.
As a possible follow-up of the program, participants are offered Dialogues for Sons and Daughters, a guidebook by Fr. Gabriel Calvo. This booklet contains outlines for fifteen meetings. Young people who want to repeat the experience of group sharings during the Sons and Daughters Encounter by using Dialogues for Sons and Daughters have fifteen great opportunities to listen to each other, to communicate and understand themselves and each other better and, therefore, to grow individually and as a community (see Publications).
from young people who have attended the Sons and Daughters Encounter:
„Thanks for this weekend! Although I have been stirred up inside by this program, and I am not experiencing deep peace (this is perhaps because I am not a great retreat-maker), it has enlightened me in many ways. It’s been an unbelievable experience! It would be great if lots and lots and lots of young people could experience this!”
„I got a couple of new friends and the group sharings were fantastic.”
„I liked best that the topics were introduced by young people. I loved that they shared their own lived experiences ie. how they acted or what they felt in certain situations in their lives.”
„My relationship with my parents has improved since then. It had not been too bad before either, but it was not frequent enough. Also, I can look at unknown people with greater love now.”
„The program was a bit packed in the sense that time was too short to digest every topic.”
„I left for the Sons and Daughters Encounter expecting a miracle, something like all my difficulties would immediately vanish. Of course that was not what exactly happened, but I wasn’t discouraged. I got strength so the problems of my daily life cannot overcome me and I do not have such a gloomy outlook. The weekend was like a breath of fresh air in the midst of everyday life! And I think it is this breath which sustains me now. I often wish I could be there, in the wonderful peace I experienced at the Encounter. It has meant a lot to me that I was able to be there.”
„While sharing with others and listening to the talks of the team, I got more and more convinced that I cannot look at any moment or event of my life but with the eyes of God. Therefore the Encounter was a weekend I was able to spend „at God’s feet”. Now I feel my difficulties are not so tragic since then. I know it’s a lot more difficult for others. And it was during the Sons and Daughters Encounter that the Spirit inspired me that there may be kind of a mission or service for me, too. Something I could do in my parish if I got involved more closely. Perhaps I can do something to build the Church.”
See also: Testimonies on Graces from FIRES