Region I Bishops’ Retreat
Once a year, usually in August, the Bishops of the New England area go on retreat together. Typically, it is held at the Franciscan House in Kennebunk, Maine. After missing a year due to the pandemic, we were all looking forward to spending time last week in prayer and reflection. In fact, the attendance was one of our best, with 18 Bishops participating. We enjoyed the rest, the nice weather, and we all experienced an overall wonderful week.
Our retreat days consisted of morning prayer and Mass, with different bishops taking turns presiding over both. The Retreat Master always preaches in that morning Mass. This year our retreat was led by Bishop Paul Loverde, Bishop Emeritus from the Diocese of Arlington in Virginia. A conference was held mid-morning, followed by time for prayer and reflection. Later in the day, we’d gather again for evening prayer and another conference at 7 p.m. This would be followed by night prayer with the remainder of the evening to ourselves to pray and rest.
During our downtime, we could spend time in personal reflection, visit the chapel or take a walk. We converted one of the extra rooms in our building into a Blessed Sacrament Chapel, as the facility’s chapel was located in a separate building. This room was perfect for personal prayer and time with the Blessed Sacrament in Adoration, an important element of any retreat.
We all live very busy lives, and taking time to step aside from our worries and daily responsibilities to pause to reconnect with God, others, and ourselves is very important. To recharge our spiritual “battery” physically and spiritually with the nourishment and rest a retreat can give. It keeps us nourished for the long journey, strengthened for another year. Bishops, Priests, and Deacons are required by canonical law to go on retreat each year; however, if possible, everyone should try to take advantage of some type of retreat. Retreats are a little different than a vacation, where we not only rest and recharge our bodies, but we make time to strengthen our spiritual life and grow closer to Christ.
There are three kinds of retreats:
- A silent retreat is often made on one’s own, using the quiet time to read and reflect on scripture and even perhaps some spiritual reading.
- A directed retreat consists of meeting with the person assigned as your spiritual director for the retreat. You meet with them one-on-one each day, then spend time reflecting on that conversation and again, spending time in prayer, the Scriptures, Adoration, and other spiritual practices.
- And lastly, the retreat that I was on is called a preached retreat, where a guest speaker gives several presentations during the retreat time.
You may even find combinations of these retreats offered that interest you. Each has its own characteristics, and I have been blessed to participate in all three, enjoying them all equally.
When I was in seminary, I did the St. Ignatius retreat, spending 3-weeks with my fellow seminarians on a combination silent/directed retreat. For six days, we would speak only to our spiritual director; then, on Sundays, we could break the fast from silence. During the silent period of the retreat, we spoke only to our spiritual director—no phone, no radio, no television, just conversations between you and God. It was a very valuable experience, one that even all these years later, I have never forgotten and still treasure.
Seminarians Return to Class
The Anchor newspaper highlights in this week’s issue the eleven diocesan seminarians preparing to return to the Seminary and resume their classes in the coming weeks. A few weeks ago, I shared a quick update on the newly ordained Transitional Deacons, their summer assignments, and what they were most looking forward to in the year to come. The Anchor article provides information on the remaining seven men, all in different stages of formation. You can find that article here.
Please join me in keeping all our Diocesan seminarians in prayer, and in continuing to pray for an outpouring of new vocations, as well.
The Vatican introducing a Synod on Synodality
In my July 7, 2021 blog I shared that Pope Francis will open a three-year synodal journey with three phases (diocesan, national, and continental) of consultations and discernment, culminating with the assembly in October 2023 in Rome. While we are still awaiting more information from the Vatican on how specifically this will look, especially for our Diocese, I wanted to share an informative article from Catholic News Agency regarding the Vatican’s request for all Catholic dioceses to take part in the synod on synodality.
When we speak about Synodality, even though it might be a new word, it is not a new idea. Though it was not used in the documents of Vatican II, the concept was at the heart of the teaching and work the Council put forth. We are called to be a Synodal Church where every baptized person has an important role to play. In our baptism, each of us is called to use our gifts and talents to further the Kingdom of God and the mission of the Church. I invite you to my July 21st blog to read more about this interesting and exciting idea.
The synod will officially open with a “diocesan phase” in October 2021 and conclude with the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops at the Vatican in October 2023. I personally, am very excited by these developments and have tasked the Ad Hoc Diocesan Revitalization Committee to work with me to ensure the Fall River Diocese is prepared to fully embrace the blessings of these coming years.
Yours in Christ,
Bishop da Cunha