MASHPEE, Mass. — The long-running ECHO (Encountering Christ in Others) retreat program celebrated its 45th anniversary on March 7 with a Mass celebration and dinner at Christ the King Parish in Mashpee. More than 200 people were in attendance, including Bishop Edgar M. da Cunha, S.D.V., who celebrated the Liturgy along with 12 diocesan priests and five deacons.
In addition, more than 30 past rectors and rectoras who have facilitated the ECHO retreat weekends over the last 45 years were in attendance.
Following Mass, a dinner was held in the parish hall. Two witness speakers spoke of how ECHO has impacted their lives and what it has meant to them. The student speaker was Lucy Cahill, a parishioner of Our Lady of Victory Parish in Centerville and a junior at St. John Paul II High School in Hyannis. The adult speaker was Joe Tierney, a parishioner of St. Pius X Parish in Yarmouth who first experienced ECHO as a teen-ager, sponsored his future wife on ECHO, sent all his kids on ECHO weekends, and is now a rector facilitating the weekends.
The current ECHO Youth Board, comprised of high school students who have previously experienced an ECHO retreat, was very involved with the celebration. They presented Bishop da Cunha with the traditional ECHO gifts at Mass: an ECHO stole, an ECHO banner, the Christ candle, a rose, a Bible, the Head of Christ image by Hook, and an ECHO cross. They also served the four-course meal in the parish hall.
Finally, they performed a musical selection for the crowd that explained to the bishop what happens on an ECHO weekend. For the song, they re-wrote words to the ABBA hit “Dancing Queen,” describing what happens each day of the Friday night to Sunday ECHO retreat, all focused on the Paschal Mystery of Jesus’ death and Resurrection.
Earlier in the fall, the students invited the bishop to come celebrate the Mass by recording a revised version of the Village People song “Y.M.C.A.” rewritten to spell out E-C-H-O.
A slideshow was also shown that included images from the past 45 years put to music and Mary Fuller of Buzzards Bay was recognized for her tireless commitment to the ECHO program for the last 45 years.
More than 12,000 people and 95 priests have experienced the ECHO retreat since its inception and it is currently believed to be the longest running retreat program in the country. ECHO No. 300 will be held next month.
For more information about the ECHO retreat program, visit www.echoofcapecod.org.