Winter Retreat - Saint John's Seminary

Winter Retreat

January 29, 2021

The Psalmist speaks to us about the God who desires to be found: “Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10)

The Seminary has just finished its Winter Retreat led by Bishop Mark O’Connell.

An important aspect of our community life is having a Retreat at the beginning of the academic year as well as mid-year at the start of the Spring Semester.

What is a Retreat?

Retreat comes from the Latin verb “to pull back.” A spiritual retreat is time set apart to be in solitude with God. A Retreat is not just pulling back from the ordinary day-to-day living but an intentional movement toward God with less distractions.

Just as Jesus went to the mountain and the desert for clarity, prayer, communion with the Father, empowerment for his mission, so too, we are called to “pull back” from the regular horarium—the daily schedule of “the hours” of the day. This time is meant to lead us to prayerful listening and sharpen our attentiveness to the work of God in our lives.

Our days were centered around the Eucharistic Lord at Holy Mass and daily Adoration. We had ample quiet time to listen to the Lord, meet with our Spiritual Director, and go to the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The house was in silence aside from our common prayer together.

Grounded in scripture using biblical stories, imagery, Saints, Popes’ writings, pastoral experiences, personal observations and lessons learned Bishop O’Connell has taken us on a pilgrimage to the heart. His easy storytelling and candor allowed for a fresh look at scriptures, tradition, discernment, our call to grow in holiness, and more pointedly our relationship with the Lord and His Church.

Some of the themes touched upon were: discernment, personal relationship with the Lord, authentic living in the Church and community, dealing with stress in ministry, living an integrated life, growing in charity, deepening one’s prayer life, embracing our own conversion, among many other helpful points of reflection.

The goal of a Retreat is meant to be an intentional movement toward God. Bishop O’Connell helped us to do that through leading us in prayer and reflection. He reminded each of us of God’s call and purpose and left us with this hopeful scripture: “We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

By: Fr. Rev. Michael MacInnis, Director of Human Formation