On October 7-11, 2019, the Russian General Custody of St. Francis of Assisi held its annual spiritual retreat at the Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Aglona, Latvia.
The retreat was attended by eleven friars from the friaries in Astrakhan, Moscow, St. Petersburg and Czerniakhovsk as well as the Nur-Sultan Friary in Astana, Kazakhstan.
The retreat was led by Father Marek JAŚKOWSKI of Surgut, Siberia, whose parish is four times larger than Poland. During his presentations, Father Marek spoke about the Acts of the Apostles and paid particular attention to the mission of the Church, to proclaiming the Gospel with enthusiasm, and to providing service to the poor and the needy.
At the end of each day, the participants shared their thoughts on the topics that were covered earlier.
The retreat featured the Blessed Sacrament exposed throughout the day, reflection on the presence of Mary through a miraculous image, and the beauty of this particular location: a place surrounded by lakes and forests, silence and peace. All of this enhanced the retreat experience and helped the friars return to their daily activities with renewed spiritual strength.
The Shrine at Aglona is very popular. It is the largest shrine in Latvia. St. John Paul II made a pilgrimage here in 1993, as did Pope Francis in 2018.
Friar Stanisław WÓJTOWICZ