On Saturday, November 29 the Office for Faith Education at the Archdiocese of Montreal welcomed over 550 catechists who were invited to participate in a Spiritual Retreat Day at St. Joseph’s Oratory.
On Saturday, November 29 the Office for Faith Education at the Archdiocese of Montreal welcomed over 550 catechists who were invited to participate in a Spiritual Retreat Day at St. Joseph's Oratory.
The day started earlier than the organizers expected. Many participants arrived an hour and a half early. Was it due to fear of parking limitations? No! It was enthusiasm!
This event was a first for the diocese as catechists from the English, French, and cultural communities were invited to celebrate the day together. After words of welcome, the catechists shared a morning of Taizé chants, liturgical dance performed by the sisters of École Marie-Clarac, Lectio Divina, and a mini-pilgrimage to discover the beauty of our oratory. The purpose of these activities was to generate an attitude of spirituality, prayer, and internal reflection.
This approach was much appreciated. "In a world that is so fast faced, especially during Advent, it is easy to lose sight of the true meaning of Christmas. This is why this retreat came at just the right time. It allowed us to still our hearts and quiet our minds, to allow God his rightful place in our lives." Letizia Colella, catechist at Missione Maria Ausiliatrice
After lunch the afternoon began with a catechesis by Archbishop Lépine, who explained that the "results" of a catechist's work are not important - we are only the instrument through which God works, and it is the work that is important. The Archbishop profoundly thanked everyone for what they do and encouraged them to continue.
The Archbishop's words were well received, as expressed by Rosy Lombardi, a catechist at Missione Maria Ausiliatrice, in an excerpt from her review of the spiritual day: "The day was excellent-the highlight for me was the Bishop's talk. The Holy Spirit spoke loud and clear: GO and give it all you've got...but pray as if it all depended on Me (GOD). Encounter people/encounter God pray before the encounter, while you are with the children, after you have met them. The quality of your encounter will depend on the quality of your own relationship with Christ. WOW!"
The catechists then heard from two witnesses who talked about their faith journeys. The first was Julian Paparella, the new 21-year old Parish Catechetical Leader appointed at St. Wilibrord's, the youngest PCL in the group, who shared how God being active in his life lead him to this role. The second witness was Rosetta Staltari, a master catechist who has followed this calling since 1976! From her we learned the history of catechesis in the church and how it evolved. Both witnesses were well spoken and thoroughly inspiring!
The afternoon closed with a mass presided by Archbishop Lépine who remained afterward to greet the catechists and take pictures. He was mobbed by many smiling people! It was a great end to a wonderful day.
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