A significant percentage of the deacons were in attendance for the retreat. Many of our wives were also able to attend. This creates an opportunity to grow spiritually as individuals, as couples, and to reconnect as a group in a social and prayerful setting. The geographical distances of the diocese make gatherings like this even more important than in metropolitan areas. The isolation that can be experienced due to the many miles separating parishes can be a bit daunting. Being connected with co-workers in the vineyard is good for morale, support and accountability.
My schedule has been full since January. I typically get a little slower pace during the month of July and look forward to that month for some time to catch up on things that have been set aside. As the time for the deacon retreat approached I was less than excited about going. I had presented a weekend retreat on the previous weekend and had once again gone for a couple of weeks without a day off. As a matter of fact I picked up some extra duties as the priests of the diocese were on retreat from Monday through Friday prior to the weekend of our deacon retreat. I presided at communion services at 6:45 A.M. for several days while the priests were gone. As the priests came back into town the deacons were leaving. I was tired but ready to make the four hour drive to begin the retreat on Friday.
Since the first of the year I have presented several workshops, led a weekend retreat, led four one-day retreats, served as the keynote speaker at several events, and preached two parish missions. Last spring I led the deacon retreat for our diocese. This time I had the opportunity to simply sit and listen. I did not have any responsibility connected to my attendance. I was a participant and not a presenter. I did my best to absorb God's grace and presence throughout the weekend.
I typically walk away with new insights, or some good reminders, from any conference or retreat experience. It was no different this time. However, the challenge is to now put into practice those new insights and reminders. That is frequently easier said than done.
The retreat experience is good for the soul. It truly presents an opportunity to simply focus on one's relationship with God. In a world filled with noise, it is of the utmost importance to quiet ourselves before the Lord. I devote a lot of time to giving retreats and preaching parish missions because I am convinced of the necessity to focus our attention directly on God. It prompts us to evaluate our lives based upon the Gospel of Christ. It challenges us to assess our priorities. A retreat can spark the flame of faith within us. I strongly encourage everyone to seek out an opportunity for time away with God. It is time well-spent!
Having a retreat at a retreat center creates an atmosphere for truly moving into the sacred. However, retreat centers are not conveniently located for everyone. Our diocese is one such location. We frequently have retreats at parishes because there is no retreat center anywhere in the vicinity. That is okay. We have had some powerful retreats right on the parish campus.
Someone asked me recently if I would come to California to give a retreat. I said, "Absolutely. I only have one requirement. It has to be during the winter." Leaving Wyoming during the winter to go to Southern California would be a nice break.
Seriously, if you would like to have a retreat at your parish and would like me to lead it, I would be more than happy to try to schedule something with your pastor. It obviously has to work around my diocesan responsibilities as the Director of Pastoral Ministries and the Superintendent of Catholic Schools. Thus, there are certain times of the year that are more conducive to my schedule than others. I am currently booking events through Advent of 2017. I prefer not to book out any further than 18 months ahead of time.
I do not charge anything to give a retreat. However, if it is outside of the Diocese of Cheyenne I do ask that my travel expenses are all covered. Click on the "Speaking Engagements" tab at the top of the page to see some of the groups that I have addressed through the years. Feel free to send me an e-mail if you would like to further discuss the possibility of a retreat or workshop at your parish. I can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.