From Monday, September 25 to Friday, September 29, 2023, the friars of the Friary of St. Anthony at the Baths (La Vigna) held their annual retreat to launch the new formation year. This year’s retreat took place in Gardone Riviera, near beautiful Lake Garda in Italy.
The retreat was led by Father Christopher OWCZAREK (Salesians), on the theme: “Called to Respond to Christ!” Also present were Friars Tadeusz ŚWIĄTKOWSKI from the Sacred Convent in Assisi and Anton ROCA from the Friary of St. Maximilian Kolbe in Rome. Both of them generously served as drivers.
The friars departed Rome at 5:00 a.m. on September 25. They arrived at Gardone Riviera the same day at 5:00 p.m. and started their retreat with Mass and contemplation of their first meditation. Father Christopher immediately reminded them that spiritual exercises [retreats] are like physical exercise: just as we physically exercise our bodies to train our muscles, so we exercise our spirits to overcome our vices and realign ourselves with the Father’s will.
In the days that followed, the friars reflected on how to master their passions in order to respond adequately to Christ. Our passions affect our relationship with ourselves, others, time, space, our work, and ultimately our relationship with God.
The last day of the retreat featured a reflection on the importance of community, remembering that, in the Bible, God is not concerned with individuals but with the community. When He calls individuals, He calls them in relation to the community. He said the ideal community is one that lives according to the teachings of the Sermon on the Mount, in particular, the Beatitudes.
During the retreat, Friar Robert LEŻOHUPSKI, the former Guardian of the community, gave a farewell address. He was returning to Poland.
Friar Gregory AMORE