On May 12th, I flew from New York (where I had given a series of classes for the Dominican Nuns of Corpus Christi Monastery in the Bronx) to Kelowna, British Columbia. Kelowna is a beautiful city located on the banks of Okanagan Lake in the southern part of the province. I was met at the airport by two old friends from Rachel’s Vineyard Leadership Conferences – Janet Kormish and Marie Clarke.
Our retreat that weekend was held at the beautiful Seton House of Prayer, which is located on a hillside overlooking the valley and the lake – a wonderful setting for a retreat! We had 29 retreatants (26 women and 3 men) for our “semi-silent retreat.” Why do I call it “semi-silent”? Because I knew that with a group of men and women who had been through post-abortion healing, that we would need time to share our experiences, our trial, struggles and joys with one another. Our retreat was an “after-care” retreat primarily for those who had already made a Rachel’s Vineyard retreat. We had Mass each day, conferences on Friday evening, Saturday morning, afternoon and evening, and a closing conference on Sunday morning. We had lots of time for silent reflection and prayer, for
spiritual direction and/or confession, all-night Eucharistic Adoration on Saturday night (which anyone who has made a Rachel’s Vineyard retreat knows is a powerful time of intimacy with our Eucharistic Lord Jesus), and we had some “Question and Answer/Discussion” times after the conferences. Sometimes I thought that the best insights were not those given by me as the retreat master, but those shared by the retreatants during the discussions!
As with any good retreat, I came away somewhat tired from the work of giving the retreat, but spiritually refreshed and encouraged by the deep spirituality and commitment to holiness that I saw in the women and men who made the retreat. One lady actually drove 9 ½ hours from Edmonton, Alberta to make this retreat – talk about commitment!
After the retreat in Kelowna, I had several quiet days to rest there at Seton House, and I enjoyed the hospitality of some of the folks there. Thank you, Margaret & Russ! Thank you, Marie! May God bless your kindness to me!
On Thursday, May 19th, I took a flight from Kelowna to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, where I was to give another “Rachel’s Vineyard After-care Retreat.” This retreat was held in the little town of Bruno, at an interesting little school called the “St. Therese School of Faith and Mission.” It is a one year program for deeper learning and living of the Catholic Faith, and has been called to a “novitiate for the laity.” Anyway, St. Therese School allowed us to use one of their wings for our retreat.
This second retreat group was organized by Bonnie Cameron (no known relation to myself), and the group was a bit smaller than the one at Kelowna – 10 ladies total, but that was a good thing since it left time for every one of the retreatants to meet with me individually. Like the first retreat, this one was an excellent spiritual retreat – very inspirational for me as a priest to witness the deep spirit of prayer among these women. I
am always edified by the spirituality, the humility and the love that I find among the women and men who have made Rachel’s Vineyard retreats for healing after abortion, and to see the wondrous effects that Our Lord’s Love and Mercy can work in the souls of those who had received these deep wounds – may the Lord Jesus be praised for His Grace and Mercy!
Between these two retreats, we now have seven new members of the Confraternity of Our Lady of Mercy in Canada! Thank you, ladies, for a great time in your beautiful country, for two great retreats, and above all, for joining us in our united pursuit of holiness. Holiness is, indeed, the only true remedy for the evil of abortion in our society – and who better to become saints then those who have once been wounded by abortion?