Our retreat centers are exploring new ways to reach those who seek a deeper relationship with God.
Like our parish communities, our retreat centers have been hit especially hard by the recent Covid-19 pandemic. The Province of Our Lady of Consolation in the USA [OLC] sponsors three retreat centers: the Mount Saint Francis Center for Spirituality at Mount Saint Francis, Indiana (known as “The Mount”), the Franciscan Retreat and Spirituality Center in Prior Lake, Minnesota (known as “Prior Lake”) and Holy Cross Retreat in Mesilla Park, New Mexico (known as “Mesilla Park”). Each of these centers fills a vital niche for spiritual renewal and growth in their respective communities, and each center has had to come up with creative responses to serve the spiritual and sometimes material needs of those in their communities. Each center wrestled with the question, “How do we proclaim the Good News and be a beacon of hospitality and hope when we cannot safely welcome guests?”
The Holy Cross Retreat Center continues its long tradition of offering hospitality to individuals undergoing medical treatments in Las Cruces, New Mexico, while expanding its outreach to the homeless. Debbie MOORE, the Business Manager of Holy Cross, observed that the pandemic “made it clearer than ever how connected we all are to one another, how much we need each other, and how our actions or inactions affect others….Talking to those who have been staying here for medical reasons, opening our doors to two homeless persons needing a short stay, and having the time to talk to them without all the “business” [that takes place during] normal times has highlighted the blessing that a simple act of kindness can be in someone’s life.”
All three of our retreat centers have had to wrestle with significant income loss during this time. All three directors expressed gratitude for the many solicited and unsolicited donations. “Some of our retreatants have even sent in their retreat offering for the overnight retreat they missed,” said Friar Robert RODDY, “and many have expressed concern for the well-being of the friars and lay staff. It’s very touching and humbling.”
By using the many new means of spreading the Good News, our Franciscan retreat centers continue to be beacons of hope and comfort during these challenging times. All of our retreat leaders know that more creative possibilities beckon as we seek to encourage and support all who seek a deeper relationship with God and one another.
Friar Robert RODDY