This year, our annual fall retreat looked a little different. With our current limitations due to Covid-19, we had to shift the the planning and structure of our retreat. Normally our retreats our spilt men's and women's retreat where they group go away together to hear talks, have praise and worship as well as mass and confession and just the chance to be away from home for the weekend and be refreshed together as brothers and sisters.
September 11-12, we had a virtual, at-home retreat. Although the weekend was unlike any of our retreats that we've had in the past, the most important part of our community life was still the focal part of our retreat - the Lord. We had the unique opportunity to have 24 hours of perpetual adoration at Koinonia Academy from 5:00pm on Friday night to 5:00pm on Saturday night. To make sure we were staying safe during our current climate, retreat attendees signed up for an hour time slot to come and be in person for adoration if they felt safe coming in person. For those who did not feel comfortable coming to pray in person, the 24 hours of adoration was live on Zoom and our facebook page. Throughout the 24 hours, 3 music teams came and played live praise and worship.
Along with adoration, 3 reflections were recorded before the retreat and released throughout the weekend. The reflections were given by three of the leaders of the People of Hope and the main theme was "United in Prayer: Be Still and Know That I am God." The reflections touched on different points of the theme. The speakers ultimately led everyone back to the Lord and to spend time with Him in adoration.
This retreat was an opportunity for the community to come back together, to be united in prayer and pray for the grace that the Lord had for each of the community members in this moment in time. The Lord was very present in the hearts of all who attended.
Here is a reflection of the retreat from a People of Hope member:
I’ve always “wanted” to be closer to Mary, but I’ve learned that no amount of devotions, novenas or rosaries can force or create that relationship. However, Donna's reflection on the retreat offered me the opportunity to reflect and recognize Mary’s presence in my life, most especially these last several weeks.
Our family came across some difficulties (namely COVID and a difficult labor and delivery of our 4th son) - and in the midst of it, it was hard to see beyond the fog of the hardship and dilemma of it all. During this time, a friend of mine sent me a prayer, Magnificat with Mary (written by the sisters of Life), whose refrain is “Mary, be with me.” Every time I found myself distraught or exhausted from carrying this cross, I found myself reaching for this comforting litany.
Fast forward to the weekend of the retreat which afforded an “in hindsight” perspective which sparked my realization of all the ways Mary was and is with me. Beginning with Donna's words on the powerful presence of Mary, and how we ought to take confidence and comfort in her helped me to see how Mary has tangibly carried me during my vulnerable time of suffering.
Many of these touch points of her motherhood came alive through tangible acts of incredible generosity of kindness from community members - texts, phone calls, meals, smiles, service, childcare, encouragement, checking in - while this seems like trite actions that we do all the time, being on the receiving end was a different story. And I realized, this was Mary, my mother reaching down into my life - ways a mother cares for her child, and she was orchestrating it for me.
Motherhood is exhausting as it is rewarding (as many of you know far better than I!) It can be daunting, frightening, isolating and did I mention, tiring? However, after be retreat I was able to shift my focus from inward to upward towards the tender love, protection and provision of our Holy Mother. Not only for my own little family, but for our community, our nation and our entire world. Mary, be with us, every step of the way towards Heaven. Amen.
- Annie, People of Hope Member