(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.