Ministers of Mercy—A Deacon Retreat

(www.deaconden.org)  “As God would have it, everything seemed to fall into place.” stated Deacon Joseph Donohoe, Director of Deacon Personnel, “First of all, the date of our Deacon retreat, originally planned for August 2015, had to be shifted to October. And then, following on the heels of Pope Francis announcing a Year of Mercy, an October opening happened to appear in our Retreat Master’s busy schedule. What better way could God have arranged for Deacons to prepare for the Year of Mercy (beginning December 8th on the Feast of Immaculate Conception) than to give them a Consolidated Deacon Retreat on the topic of Divine Mercy with Father Michael Gaitley, MIC, as Retreat Master?

Typically, Deacons attend one of five small retreats to fulfill their annual canonical retreat obligation. A retreat gathering of all Deacons in the Archdiocese only takes place once every 5 years. This particular retreat was held at the YMCA of the Rockies in Estes Park with bugling elk and blazing fall foliage as a seasonal backdrop. But it was indoors where real change was taking place.

Father Gaitley’s theme for the retreat was “A Time of Mercy” and he immersed the Deacons into the Sacred Heart of the Divine Mercy using examples from the lives of modern day Saints like, Faustina, John Paul II, Maximillian Kolbe and Therese of Lisieux. “It’s the first retreat I ever attended that taught us how to be saints,” said Deacon David Luksch. Father Michael reminded Deacons that they are the Ministers of Mercy. So, as such, they must allow the rays of His Divine Mercy to flow from their heads, to their hearts, and into their lives with intensity and inspiration. By doing so, Deacons can set hearts afire and lead themselves and others to sainthood.

Each day of the retreat, Deacons participated in Holy Mass, remembering their parish families and their deceased and suffering brothers. On Saturday, the 140 Deacons lined up for a procession of the Blessed Sacrament. They followed Jesus into a chapel where they spent 2 ½ hours in Adoration, while also taking advantage of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. “The chapel was overflowing with Deacons!” stated Deacon Mark Wolbach, “It was truly a sacred and holy time.”

“Our role of caring for each other in life is based on God’s Divine Mercy,” Deacon Robert Rinne stated about the retreat. So, don’t be surprised if you hear a lot about Our Lord’s Mercy in homilies from Deacons in the coming Year. The Jubilee Year of Mercy starts on December 8th and ends on the Solemnity of Christ the King, November 20th, 2016.

6 Responses to “Ministers of Mercy—A Deacon Retreat”

  1. Deacon Tom Fox

    This may have been one of the strongest, most inspiring retreats I’ve ever been blessed to participate in. I’m full of gratitude. Blessings. dt

  2. Deacon Pablo Salas

    I walked away with a new insight and greater awareness of how merciful and loving God truly is. Fr. Michael made all the right connections using the saints to remind us of his merciful love despite all our weaknesses. God calls us to perfection but accepts us in all our imperfections. Thanks to Deacon Joe and all the staff and volunteers who helped make this happen.

  3. Deacon Jim Blume

    This retreat was fantastic. The topic was perfect….relevant to our ministry and spiritual lives. Fr. Michael was such a great presenter.
    I love the setting of the YMCA ….great having a private room and bath. I thought the food was great with many options.
    Don’t know of another venue that could work as well. The Eucharistic procession and opportunity for confession was great. Thanks to my deacon brothers who planned and made it all happen.

  4. Deacon Richard Borda

    On this third consolidated retreat, I a felt strong sense of diaconal spirituality, identity and fraternity like none I had felt before. Throughout the retreat I could not stop thinking about our past Director Deacon Alfonso Sandoval’s vision when he initiated the first consolidated retreat 10 years ago and how Deacon Joe Donohoe has further developed that vision in his ministry as Director. We owe both a great deal of thanks as well as those newly ordained Deacons who served the rest of us so well on this year’s retreat. God’s Blessings to all.

  5. Deacon George Morin

    The narrative of Fr. Michael Gaitley about our God’s Divine Mercy recognized in the life story of our Saints, the profound connections between world events and world leaders was beyond fascinating. I too was so excited to hear a priest help me understand the Divine Design of how to live in a new earth and what to do to actually move toward sainthood with a real sense of hope. The presentations were building blocks of love and mercy. Fr. Michael helped change our thinking and language by constantly asking us, “what time is it?” The presence of so many of deacon brothers made the time together very special. I try to speak only for myself, but, I believe my brother deacons would agree that Joe Donohoe’s choices and leadership for the retreat should his excellent skills but more importantly his love for each one of us. Many thanks due to our new deacons who served us. I will continue to use many of the things I learned.

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