At 6:30pm on Friday, March 10 (Friday of the First Week of Lent), we concluded the spiritual retreat that had begun on Sunday, March 6th, at the Vincentian Formation Center in the city of Avila, Spain. The final event of that retreat was the celebration of the Eucharist.
Thirty-one Missionaries participated in this retreat: six from the Province of Zaragoza and the remainder from the Province of Saint Vincent de Paul (Spain). The conferences were given by Father Aarón Gutiérrez Nava, CM, assistant general. The retreat took place in the midst of a calm, warm, and welcoming environment. The temperature was quite warm for this time of the year and that enhanced our stay at the retreat center.
I believe that here it is important to highlight the conversation and dialogue that took place during these days. Each day we shared our experiences as we attempt to respond to the present-day challenges and thus remain relevant and vibrant in the midst of the world and in the midst of the Church.
In order to understand all of this I present here the titles of the ten conferences: introduction to the spiritual exercises; to be alive to the desire to love God; my soul searches for God; the poor: a reality of encounter; community: a reality of encounter; personal and community conversion; pastoral conversion; discipleship: the following of Jesus Christ, our mystical way; contemplation: the source of charity; evangelization of the poor.
During our time at the Center we were mindful of the reality of this Jubilee Year during which we recall the origin of the Vincentian charism. At the same time we were also very aware of the beneficiaries of our mission, the clear message of the Church that had to be proclaimed. In other words, we were very conscious of the dreams and the aspirations of the human family … aware of the many challenges and problems that have to be confronted.
During the last day of our retreat, Father Jesús María González Antón, CM (the Visitor of the Province of Saint Vincent de Paul) celebrated Morning Prayer with us and expressed to us his desire that we would remain faithful to the personal commitments that we accepted during this time of retreat.
Translated: Charles T. Plock, CM