Luis Manuel Torres, Chaplain

This year the Archdiocesan Office of HIV/AIDS Ministry in collaboration with Bienestar Latino Aids Project, Catholic Ministry to Gay and Lesbian People, and the Metropolitan Community Church hosted the annual Spiritual Retreats for the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Community living with HIV/Aids.  The retreats were held in June, July, and August with the central theme being “Busqueda Espiritual para la Communidad Gay, Lesbiana, Bisexual y Transgenero Viviendo con VIS/SIDA.”

At a World AIDS event at La Placita the need for retreats such as this was expressed during a meeting between Bienestar’s CEO and Fr. Chris Ponnet.  This is the second year that the retreats have been offered.

At each retreat a sacred and safe space is created which allows the participants to share their most private and painful spiritual journeys.  Many of those who participated have expressed their gratitude for these retreats and how they were spiritually filled. The hope of these retreats is that we honor each person’s spiritual journey as painful as it might be and we look forward to offering them again each year.

During the Office of Religious Education Congress we had an opportunity to meet, greet, and network with parish leaders.  Our faithful volunteers staffed the booth and provided information on how to minister to individuals, families and caregivers on the pastoral approach to HIV/AIDS.

We were also present at all of the Regional Congresses from Santa Barbara/Ventura Counties, San Fernando, San Pedro, San Gabriel and Our Lady of Angels Pastoral Regions.  Our workshops were well attended and many people visited our booths.  Many catechists expressed a desire for presentations in their parish programs.

During the month of October, we participated along with representatives from many Catholic Highs Schools, Colleges, and Parishes in the Annual AIDS Walk sponsored by the AIDS Project Los Angeles.  This year, before the walk began, we gathered with other catholic walkers to network, reflect and pray. Many of the participants shared their reasons for participating in the AIDS Walk.

As we prepare for World AIDS Day on December 1, it is our hope that we will continue to be the Catholic voice in the midst of this pandemic, offering support, encouragement and keeping the promise that no one will have to experience this suffering alone.