Monday, June 14, 2010

Retreat weekend brought joy

This past Saturday, I attended a retreat from 1-9pm at St. Francis of Assisi Church in Outer Cove, Newfoundland. The day featured a variety of spiritual reflections and activities. The 25 or so attendees first gathered in the church for an opening prayer. We then proceeded to the lecture room to hear the conversion story of a very interesting Franciscan Friar who returned to his childhood home of Newfoundland to help out with the spiritual needs of the community. He talks about how he went from a lucrative career traveling the globe to giving it all up to gain something even greater - spiritual closeness to God.

After his testimony, we heard 3 heart-felt stories from young Catholics. They spoke of their return to the faith after years of mediocre participation. Conversion, they reminded us, is not an event, but a process. One particularly touching moment is when one of the young people was speaking about living faith in our every day lives, and during one story, he had to pause several times to fight back tears. He was speaking of a touching encounter he had with a man who was down on his luck. The speaker's simple act of almsgiving was such a special moment for this man of little means. I doubt there were many dry eyes as he recounted this moment.

Later, we heard the story of Fr. John Corapi, a dynamic speaker, who went from being a Ferrari-driving millionaire and friend of movie stars to someone who lost everything because of his drug addictions, and finally was touched by the grace of God through the intercession of his mother and became a priest, being ordained by Pope John Paul II himself. He is now one of the most sought after speakers in North American Christendom, and indeed the world.

Later, we shared a meal together, which was lovingly prepared by several of the guests. During the meal, I spoke to a young lady who was becoming more involved with her faith, however, she had not attended confession in her entire life except the first time when she was a child. She spoke of her fear of telling the priest her sins. She was quite nervous, but her heart pulled her in the right direction. She was very brave.

After confession and Mass, a priest came by to answer questions. People asked a few questions, and the priest gave some very good answers. For the closing, everyone gathered in the church once again for the Rosary. I lead the 4th decade, which is what I used to do when we said it as a family, because I was the fourth born.

The entire day was a phenomenal success, and many people expressed their desire to have another such event in the future. I can't wait!

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