Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Evangelization Retreat

Another interruption was preparing for the Evangelization Retreat this past weekend. Approximately fifty Hispanic women came to Mother Boniface Spirituality Center for a weekend in which they encountered, as they said, the Living Christ, and themselves.
This retreat was developed by Frs. Vincent Finnerty, CM and Jesus Guadarrama, CM. when the three of us worked in Hispanic Ministry in the Diocese of Charlotte. Father Finnerty was the Diocesan Director and Fr. Jesus was a layman on the team at the time. I had just arrived from almost eight years in Mexico and was soon made responsible for the women's retreats.
Last year through a stroke of Providence, Fr. Jesus and I were both in Philadelphia, so we were asked to begin the women's retreats here. We had our first retreat last September.
Our own Sister Maria Lauren who is part of the Archdiocesan (Phila) Hispanic Ministry Team and I worked with the women on the Team before the Retreat and were Spiritual Guides during the retreat. We were fortunate to have four priests for Confessions and two who also accompanied us throughout the retreat.
For me one of the joys was seeing the fruits of Sister Maria Lauren's missionary labors during her time in South Philadelphia in the women on the retreat. It was obvious how deeply she has touched their lives.
The theme of the retreat was the Woman at the Well (John 4). She was a model for the women to see that no matter what has happened in our lives Our Lord will never reject us. He forgives us, sets us free, and having experienced this love and forgiveness, he calls us to be missionairies, inviting others to experience the same.
Some of the women on the Team have had little formal education, yet they and the conferences they gave were powerful witnesses to the action of God in their lives. They invited the retreatants to experience this same power in their lives.
When the retreat was finished the women got on a bus and headed to South Philadelphia where many of them live and were received by their families who were anxiously waiting to receive these New and Renewed Women.

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