Saturday, August 25, 2012

On Retreat

On Retreat

Last week, Aug. 12-18, I was on retreat at DB Retreat Center in Haverstraw with 43 other SDBs (if I counted the list correctly), besides our preacher and Fr. Tom Dunne (the provincial)--and, I think, 2 confreres from the local Marian Shrine community.  In addition, we had with us from the start on Sunday evening until very early Tuesday a.m. our 5 prenovices, and making a parallel retreat the 18 young people completing their 3 weeks of orientation as Salesian Lay Missioners (SLMs), 4 more Salesian Domestic Volunteers (SDVs), who might be better called Home Missioners, and the 4 SLM-SDV staff guiding their orientation.  It was a crowd!

The prenovices left on Tuesday for Rosemead, Calif., where they were inducted into the novitiate on Aug. 15.

More about the SLMs and SDVs once I get their press releases done!  This past week has been crazy with other press releases.

Our retreat preacher was Bp. Luc Van Looy, SDB, of Ghent, Belgium, who is a very good friend of our province.  A former missionary to Korea, he was superior of the Korean delegation when the SDBs in that country were still part of the Japanese Province, then in 1984 was elected general councilor of the missions; 6 years later, general councilor for youth ministry; and in 1996, vicar of the Rector Major.  In these capacities he made a number of visits to our province and got to know many of us.  When Fr. Juan Vecchi died in 2001, he guided the Congregation to our 25th General Chapter in 2002, where he was given a strong chance of being elected RM.  Instead, Fr. Pascual Chavez was elected, and Fr. Luc continued as vicar until 2003, when John Paul II named him bishop back in his native Flanders.  As bishop he has presided over 2 ordinations for us, most recently last July 1 (q.v. below) of Frs. Mike Leschinsky and Matt DeGance.

Twice I had a pleasure of visiting Bp. Luc's cathedral and episcopal city, in 2007 and 2009 (also covered somewhere down below).  On the 1st occasion, I visited with him--he kindly invited me to lunch, as well as any family members who might have come along with me from Hautrage (none did), and then showed me around the cathedral and into the cathedral's artistic treasure, Van Eyck's Adoration of the Mystic Lamb.  Too bad no photos allowed in that little chapel!

I'd say that the bishop's theme for the retreat was "witness," altho I'm not sure about that.  He used the Gospel of St. John primarily, hitting on the ideas of (1) remaining with Jesus; (2) Jesus is someone/something new who puts us into a new relationship with the Father; (3) obedience to the Father's will; (4) the Eucharist; (5) the Church as a witness of Jesus; (6) the Church as missionary; (7) preaching the Gospel today: thru presence, thru presenting Jesus, thru living what we believe; (8) the Church as witness to Jesus; (9) St. Francis de Sales; (10) Don Bosco

The bishop loves music and plays piano and the accordion.  He didn't bring his accordion with him, but we supplied a keyboard so that he could use music (a hymn) as part of his presentation of each conference.
Another important part of every SDB retreat is the provincial's Good Nite talks and his Friday evening "open session" with the confreres.  Since he had just received the RM's letter of commendation and recommendations after our extraordinary visitation (q.v. below), he referred constantly to that as well as to Fr. Esteban Ortiz's longer preliminary report, given to all of us at the end of the visitation in May; and to the themes for our next general chapter (2014), which tie in very closely with the recommendations for our province.  Fr. Tom promised us a lot of hard work this year as we begin to reflect on all this.

This retreat was special because on Aug. 15 six of our youngest brothers renewed their temporary vows at Mass.
All renewed! Bros. Eddy Chincha, Paul Chu, Minh Dang, Juan Pablo Rubio, Marc Stockhausen, and Adam Dupre', with Fr. Tom Dunne

On the 16th we visited the province cemetery to pray for our deceased confreres.  That's been part of every retreat at Haverstraw for about 20 years now.
Some of the confreres moving around the various grave sites, recalling men they knew and loved.
Fr. Tom leading a prayer service at the cemetery.

On the 17th, again at Mass, our new missionaries were commissioned, with Bp. Luc presiding.
The bishop blesses the missionaries' crosses before presenting them to each individual. He's assisted by Fr. Tom Dunne, Megan Fraino, and Adam Rudin--the latter 2 the directors of the SDVs and SLMs, respectively.

As is customary at every SDB retreat, on Friday evening there was a festive dinner followed by a thank-you for the preacher and some musical, theatrical, and comic entertainment.  In this instance, most of it was supplied by our enthusiastic and talented young women and men. Two samples:

The retreat ended at breakfast on Saturday, but most of us stayed for the perpetual profession Mass of Bros. Mike Eguino and Rob Malusa later in the morning at the Marian Shrine chapel.  I should have a blog post about that in a day or two; all the press releases about it have been sent out.

As usual, I used our after-lunch free time to do some hiking in Harriman SP:  up the Dunderberg, up the Seven Hills and Hillurn-Torne-Sebago trails to Ramapo Torne, and down the Long Path for a couple of miles.  Didn't see a single other hiker except in the parking lots, and Bro. John Rasor, who came along with me on Tuesday.  On Friday I brought a couple of the confreres to the Stony Point Battlefield, which they hadn't even known of.
At one scenic overlook along the Ramapo-Dunderberg Trail, someone left a fire pit. Beyond, Indian Point power plant and various bends in the Hudson River, with Stony Point Bay at the right. In the far distance, center, the piers of the Tappan Zee Bridge can barely be discerned.
I didn't meet any hikers on the trail, but on the Long Path I did meet this young fellow, about 50' feet away; there was a young doe with him.

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