Retreat features building faith during Year of Mercy

Wed, Jul 13th 2016 03:00 pm
Special to WNYC
Participants gather at a bonfire as part of a prayer service during the retreat.
Participants gather at a bonfire as part of a prayer service during the retreat.

A weekend retreat called "Communion of Hearts" took place at the St. Columban Center in Derby on May 20-22.  The theme was chosen as the retreat focused on entering into deeper union with God during the Year of Mercy by allowing participants to be touched by God's mercy and then sharing it with others.  

Barbara Svisco, Sister Joanne Suranni, CSSF, and Joanne Brooks planned the retreat and assembled materials to be used by the participants.  

Thirty-three participants began their time away with Mass celebrated by Father Michael Denk, a priest from the Diocese of Cleveland. Throughout the weekend, Jerome and Denise Bobak provided the music ministry for liturgies and services.  

Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and adoration were available for the entire weekend. Using the book "Pray 40 Days," written by Father Denk, participants were led into a journey of deep prayer. On Saturday morning, Father Denk helped the group enter into various prayer experiences, including meditation and contemplative prayer. Father Denk's materials are available on his website at   

The sacrament of reconciliation was available on Saturday afternoon, followed by an evening healing service in which they were anointed by Father Patrick Melfi. Participants then processed outside to a blazing bonfire, where they placed their prayers and petitions, written on paper into the fire, surrendering them to God in prayer and song.    

The retreat concluded on Sunday morning with a talk given by Sister Joanne, based on Andrei Rublev's famous "Icon of the Trinity." In her talk, Sister Joanne focused on entering into deeper communion with God through relationships with others, and extending hospitality to those encountered.  

Following the talk, Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament and the Eucharistic Liturgy on the Solemnity of the Holy Trinity were celebrated by Father James Pribek, SJ. Following the liturgy, participants enjoyed brunch before departing for home.  

Those who attended left the experience spiritually refreshed and strengthened in their journey of faith. Sister Joanne believed it was a great privilege to guide the last retreat to be held at the St. Columban Center.


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