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Annual Retreat Experiences 2021-22

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” – Heb 4:12

The Propaedeutic Batch of 2021 was invited to attend a 7-day Ignatian Retreat. We all went into the retreat with an open mind and heart. As soon as we entered Sarvodaya, the venue of the retreat, we were immediately immersed in a surrounding of silence. The day began with a talk at 9 AM followed by ‘Instructions' at 3 PM. Each of us had to complete 4 sessions of prayer every day, each lasting 45 minutes, but we were free to choose the time and structure of our day. The retreat followed a specific pattern and Fr. Lisbert D’Souza SJ, our retreat director, handpicked themes and relevant scriptures for each day that we reflected on and also prayed about. Contemplative prayer required us to imagine ourselves in the gospel scene as any character or bystander and to allow the spirit direct us. Everyone experienced consolations and desolations during the retreat. Finally, when the retreat ended, we could see ourselves and each other differently than when we entered into it. We all experienced how profound the word of God really is as the Lord spoke to us through it. We will never be the same again. Praise be to God!

Br. Mathew Fernandes, Propaedeutic Year

"The annual retreat for the first and second year philosophers was held from the 17th to 23rd October 2021. The retreat was a spiritually illuminating experience for all the brothers to examine their own life and to know themselves in the relation with God. It was a charismatic retreat, which has guided by Rev. Fr. Solomon Rodrigues and Rev. Fr. Ashwin Castellino. Fr. Solomon began the retreat with an introductory talk on Sunday night regarding the significance of the desert experience to encounter Christ in our life, by contrasting the desert experience of Jesus when he withdraws from everything and became spiritually illuminated for his ministry. The main theme of this retreat was Holiness. It included sessions on Love of God, Holiness through repentance, faith and reconciliation, Holiness through the salvation in Christ, Holiness through the inner healing and Baptism in the Holy Spirit; and it concluded with a session on Call to mission to proclaim the good news. This annual retreat concluded with the Holy Eucharist on 23rd October. It was a spiritually enriching experience for all the brothers."

Br. Litson John, II Year Philosophy

"Albert Camus puts it beautifully: “In order to understand the world, one has to turn away from it on occasion”. One of the best parts of the seminary formation is the annual retreats. This year too, the first year theologians had their one week retreat from the 17th to 23rd October 2021 preached by Fr. Anthony Menezes (SVD). Various themes were chosen throughout the retreat. Some of them were: what am I hungry for? The process of satisfying our hunger, walk along the way, gratitude, sin, fall and restoration, mission in the perspective of life which changes everything. We felt a deep sense of belonging to God in these days of silence, meditation, prayer and introspection. The peaceful and the silent atmosphere around made the whole retreat all the more wonderful. We were basically guided by the preacher that we were going on a journey from the Garden of Eden to the Kingdom of God. The thought-provoking reflections in each talk and sermon instilled in us the craving for more and more prayer and self-reflection. The most cherishing part of the retreat was the time of holy hour in which we completely lost ourselves in speaking to the Lord."

Br. Ignatius Pramod, I Year Theology

"17 brothers of II Year Theology and 6 brothers of III Year Theology began their retreat on the 17th October, 2021 after supper. Our retreat director Fr. Wendell D’cruz was a Jesuit priest working in the missions since 1995. A theologian and a man of multiple leadership roles. Fr. Wendell invited us to ask God for the grace to enter into the retreat with an attitude of gratitude. He gave us a prayer of St. Anselm which was dear to his heart and asked us to pray it daily at the beginning of the day. This prayer was about asking God to teach us to seek him and love him as we are unable to do so in our strength.

Fr. Wendell spoke of the sacramental dimension of the Church (not the Seven Sacraments). He said that God was working in ALL the world, a mystery which he pictorially represented by several scattered dots. Fr. Wendell said that the Church was that place of concentrated (dots) awareness of God’s presence. This Church was without walls or boundaries. Based on this understanding of the Church, Mission means being able to recognize these dots, recognize that God is present and active in the world and aligning ourselves with God at work in the world. So, the theme of our retreat was ‘Mission’.

Fr Wendell explained that Mission is about what God is doing. God is already present in the missions before we go the missions. The Church is not for itself, it is missionary by nature. The heart of the local church is not the parochial house but out among the people. The mission is of the Lord. We only need to surrender to his plan.

One definite place we will always find God is among the poor. If we have lost the poor, we have lost contact with God. By poor we mean not so much the economic poor but rather the vulnerable and the marginalized, the ‘anawim’. A good deed done to the poor is greater than any of our great works.

Fr. Wendell also spoke of a synodal church, a co-responsible church. He said that the present synod is asking us to be attentive to the whole of God’s people. The Holy Spirit speaks specially through the poor, the non-Christians and those outside the Church.

Fr. Wendell followed the Ignatian pattern for the retreat. We had just a single talk during the day. After that we were to spend five hours of personal prayer, reflecting and conversing with God. He also introduced us to a novel of praying through painting. One is supposed to reflect and paint spontaneously without any pre-conceived ideas. He explained that by doing so the deep prayer of the interior self is expressed in the painting. The homilies father gave during the mass were very inspiring. Although they were long stories, the interesting thing was that almost every line emphasized the point that he was making. Fr. Wendell also displayed some unusual pictures of the crucified Christ trying to explain the mystery of the cross. He said that if we don’t allow ourselves to be broken by God then as priests our breaking of the bread during the Eucharist becomes meaningless. The ‘Becoming’ is important, becoming like Christ by following the way of the cross. This retreat has indeed been a unique one and, although now ended, it has made us begin thinking deeper about our relationship with the Lord and the anawim."

Br. Anthony Rodrigues, II Year Theology

"It was truly a breathtaking experience during the One-month retreat in the month of May. We were all together six brothers from third year theology who saw themselves privileged to participate in the Ignatian retreat under the guidance of Fr. Ambrose S.J. in Sarvodaya, Goregaon (E). The spiritual exercises of Ignatius Loyola were composed between 1522-1524. The chief aim of this retreat is to foster the experience of prayer, prayerful deliberation and cooperation with God's graces which St. Ignatius intended for the retreatants. These 31 days of retreat were well structured into four thematic weeks which consisted of four essential movements each with its own spiritual gifts and graces.

Since this retreat predominantly was meditative prayer, we all were challenged to spend four hours in prayer during the day apart from the Eucharist and adoration in the evening. In spite of many hardships and difficulties, each one of us experienced God’s love in our lives. One of the profound experiences that brothers shared during the retreat is that all were able to connect and communicate not only to Jesus Christ alone but to the Triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Some of the visions and deeper experiences are still fresh in our minds. Towards the end of the retreat, we were encouraged to take some concrete steps for our future life. It was also a great challenge to discern which of our decisions, desires, thoughts and feelings were of the Divine and which ones were from our human knowledge.

We felt during the retreat that our faith increased tremendously, our inner wounds were healed, misconceptions were resolved and spiritual dryness was replaced with enthusiasm. Therefore, the right description that we would give to this One-month retreat is ‘the Spiritual rebirth’."

Br. Amol Thopelya, III Year Theology


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