Every year during the months of April and May, the Second Year Theologians do a one month long Ignatius retreat. This is to enable them to ponder deeper on the mission of Christ and to grow towards full dependency on him. Since they are only a year away from the Diaconate at that stage of their lives, this forms a perfect time to strengthen one’s call to the Priesthood. This year six brothers along with a Candidate for the Permanent Diaconate (CPD) attended the retreat at the Jesuit House at Baga Beach. The retreat preacher was Fr. Lawry Trinidade S.J.
Below are the experiences of the brothers who attended the retreat:
Joseph David [Archdiocese of Bombay]
It is very difficult to talk about what exactly happened in the silent retreat. You actually sit together, you walk side by side, you eat meals in one hall, sometimes on the same table, but yet you have to restraint yourself from getting distracted or distracting others. So allow me to say, “It’s what you don’t do that matters.” And it’s here that, something amazing happened, when I was given the opportunity to take away external distraction: that is when I got to sit with my own mind. ‘Silence’ was the framework, or one could say the background of the beautiful voyage. It was the most meaningful spiritual experience of my life. I felt a deep sense of kindness, compassion and love filling my inner being when we were asked to reflect on the person of Jesus. This process of knowing Jesus, although it had started from the very beginning, it gradually gained much clarity. Finally, the best thing that I realized through my retreat was this; “All along I thought I was seeking God, but actually it is the other way ’round. In all this process, my contribution is just to show up and accept him willingly.”
Godfrey Malu [Archdiocese of Bombay]
“Be still and know that I am God” Psalm 46:10
This silent retreat, away from all the stress and electronic noise, helped me come more closer to God and spend quality time with Him. I found myself growing more spiritually as I began meditating on the scripture verses for a longer period of time, and trying to listen to what God was telling me. At times when I found it difficult to concentrate, it was the Lord, my refuge who gave me the grace to overcome temptation and rest in His presence. It was the silence that allowed me to hear and talk with God. In silent prayer, I learnt about God and myself at the same time. Here God took the lead and helped me discover my true self and my relationship with Him, thereby helping me to strengthen my call to the priesthood. At the end of the retreat, I realised that, “ The Lord is truly my shepherd, there is nothing I shall want.”
Cliffton Mendonca [Archdiocese of Bombay]
My experience of the month’s long silent retreat has been very profound, unique and deep. I have emerged form it a much stronger and grown person, having been able to deal and confront many personal issues, as well as the challenges of the vocation. Standing on top of the mountain where the retreat house was located I could see the the beach line, the sand, the shacks and the tourists. Only a few years ago I would be among them and now I am as though seeing myself with a new set of eyes. A whole new mission lays ahead. This retreat has helped me and even forced me (since there was nothing else to do except pray for over 7 hours each day!!!) to go into deep waters with the Lord. As the weeks progressed it got harder and I could barely keep up with the instructions completely, yet in what I did God gave abundant grace. I have come back a new person.
Cedric Rosario [Archdiocese of Bombay]
As I look back on the one month retreat I did in Goa, I can affirm with confidence that I experienced God’s love for me very deeply. The entire month was a period of spiritual enrichment, self-introspection, greater self-awareness and immense satisfaction. A large amount of the day was spent in silent prayer, with the retreat director meeting us for a short while every morning and giving minimum inputs in the evenings. Spending such a large amount of time in silent meditation was a challenging task, yet it bore fruits in my life in a tangible manner. The retreat re-affirmed my vocation to the priesthood and taught me that the model of the priesthood can only be the “MODEL OF SELFLESS SERVICE”. I am grateful to my seminary formators for organising this once in a lifetime experience for us, which I will cherish for the rest of my life.
Lawrence Sahayadass (CPD)
I have attended one month retreat at Goa along with my classmates of Second Year Theology from 15.4.18 to 14.5.18. It was a life time experience for me. Until then I never attended any retreat for more than 4 days. I personally benefitted by the 5 hours of meditation, Eucharist and Daily Adoration, coupled with regular inputs by Fr. Lawry. I could encounter Jesus tangibly at least three times during my meditations. This retreat has boosted my prayer life and capacity to simply remain with the Lord.
Kelvin Santhis [Archdiocese of Bombay]
My retreat experience was very enriching. The calm, peaceful and beautiful natural surrounding contributed to my prayer experience. The retreat helped me to confront my fears and approach the person of Jesus in an intimate way. It also helped me to prioritize Jesus as the centre of my entire life; finding a sense of direction in my journey to the priesthood. I would like to thank Fr. Lawry Trinidade SJ who inspired me by his life and sharings and I know that this experience of God I have received at the retreat will remain with me always.
Edward Selvan [Diocese of Belgaum]
The retreat was a time of vacationing with the Lord, experiencing him more closely and deeply, being alone with the Alone and spending qualitative time in prayer and meditation, feeling the Oneness with the Lord as I journeyed in the creation, passion, death and resurrection of our Lord. It was an awesome time to spend in deep silence, cutting off from this busy world and journeying with the Lord more intimately than before. It was a great time to reflect on myself, my weakness, my infirmities and asking the Lord’s assistance to live out as a true and dedicated disciple, drawing strength from the Lord and having the Jesus experience in my life in order to live out and share out with others.
Compiled by the 2nd Year Theologians
St Pius X College