Retreat Forward!

Dear Fellow Parishioners,
As priests, we are expected to attend an annual retreat; taking time to stop and check in with the Lord. It is a time of focused spiritual growth and reflection. It is not simply beneficial for priests to do so, but for all of us to take the time to listen attentively to the Lord.

The Office for Continuing Education of the Clergy offers an Annual Priests’ Retreat; or we can arrange to make our annual retreat at a center of our own choosing, any time throughout the year. When I was the Director of the Office for Youth Ministry, I attended the annual Priests’ Retreat. Little did I know it would be like working in the office. Priests had questions about programs we were doing, bringing in forms and applications for events, wanting to set up appointments for me to speak to their parish council and more. That week, I knew the annual retreat was not for me, at least while I was working in a diocesan office.
Since being out of the office I have ventured back to the Annual Priests’ Retreat, and this year I realized more than ever how very important it is. Most of us are assigned to parishes where we are the only priest. The expectations on all of us is high, and few of us know how to say no to the many requests that come our way. This takes its toll on time to gather with brother priests to discuss “business,” “challenges,” “personal difficulties,” and more.

This past week, I realized; “How good it is to be here!” How great it is to laugh together, pray together, celebrate Mass together, confess our sins, support each other, tell our stories, and be encouraged to minister to the People of God in our various assignments. The theme of our retreat; “Retreat Forward!” was a call to support each other in the work we do and invite others to follow Christ in the world we live in today. Many of the older men who are retired were so happy to be with us “younger guys.” How happy I was to see them and be encouraged by them. What a grace-filled time it was indeed.

I am not sure when it happened, but sometime during the week, I realized that this is the retreat I need to make annually, never mind scheduling a time more convenient for me. It’s a commitment that we each need to consider. How important we are one to another, even in our journey of faith here at Sacred Heart Parish!

God’s Peace to you all,
Fr. Bill