Seeing the retreat team’s invitation for parishioners to join the planning, it occurs to me that now would be a good time to give an update on the annual parish Lenten retreat, which occurs on Saturday, March 5. I was invited by the retreat team to offer some suggestions to change things up a little bit, for various reasons. It seemed we could lighten the load of immediate decorating before the retreat by using the church building more. It also seemed like a good idea to offer something that could be new and fresh for all parishioners, given that for many years now the retreat has really been focused on newcomers, or people on the outskirts of parish life. We have also heard frequently that people are not able to attend the retreat, because they simply cannot make the commitment for a Friday evening along with the entire day Saturday. So these are some of the reasons for changing the format.
The new format will be a daylong retreat, beginning Saturday morning and ending with the evening Mass, and some type of food and fellowship afterwards. Given our recent subscription to the Formed Program of online resources for the parish, it made all the sense in the world to incorporate some of these expert, top-notch speakers and topics into the retreat. So a few of the talks from the day will come from Brant Pitre’s series on the Biblical roots of the Eucharist. Dr. Pitre heads up the Scripture Department of Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans, LA. His writing and his talks are solid and inspiring. In future years we can choose other themes.
In addition to the Formed talks, the retreat team still wanted to maintain some of the other transformational dynamic of the current retreat. So there will still be some table conversation in small groups. We want still to maintain the inspiring aspect of personal testimony, so there will still be some people speaking about their personal experience of faith, life in Jesus Christ, etc. I will still give my talk on the sacraments, which is really much more of a testimony of my priestly experience of the sacraments, rather than an academic presentation. Finally we want to include some time of Eucharistic adoration together, along with the availability of sacrament of confession. So there will be a bit of all of these dynamics to refresh, restore and inspire. Of course, there will be sharing a meal together during the day as well. The retreat will be open to anybody high school aged or older. Again, this is the perfect opportunity for somebody who went on the retreat years ago to come back and experience something new.
Please consider if the Lord is nudging you to join the planning team. And already start asking the Lord if he is nudging you to attend. I believe it will be a life-giving day!
On another note, anybody reading this letter at our Paulding campus this weekend realizes that the three-week inconvenience of having the narthex doors closed off has begun. We will re-open the narthex doors for regular usage at the 10:30 Mass on December 13. Thank you for your patience, if you are used to using these doors! Please allow the inconvenience to draw you into the importance of this Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, declared by Pope Francis.
Many, many thanks to everybody who helped so far to prepare for the special Holy Door and other facets of our observation of this Year of Mercy. We were not given much notice from the Diocese, yet everybody stepped forward to make it all come together.
In our bulletin now – just until the end of the Year of Mercy – you will notice another special box, entitled “From the ‘Face of Mercy’ for the Jubilee Year, by Pope Francis.” This is the document with which Pope Francis declared the Jubilee Year of Mercy. We can consider Jesus Christ to be the “face” of God’s mercy, since Jesus embodies God’s mercy for us. This is why the document starts out with the words “Face of Mercy”. Each week we are going to print a small quotation. I hope this quote will serve as matter for your meditation – another means for you to draw more deeply into the mystery of God’s mercy. May we all become more merciful as our Father in Heaven.
Many, many thanks to the men who helped remove the organ at our Antwerp campus: Bill Woodring, Paul Reinhart, Ken Reinhart, Joe Meyer, Deacon Bob Nighswander and Russ Reinhart.
Have a blessed week!
In cordibus Iesu et Mariae,