On Saturday, November 19, more than 500 people, mostly catechists and people involved in catechesis, assembled at Saint Joseph's Oratory for a retreat day organized by the Office for Faith Education.
The Office for Faith Education organized this event of spiritual renewal to explore different ways of practicing interiority and provide an occasion for ecclesial communion in the presence of our Archbishop; the principal catechist of the Catholic Church of Montreal.
From the outset, the day's coordinator, Lamphone Phonevilay, highlighted the importance in Church unity of respecting the diversity of those who play a role in catechesis. By their desire for communion, Francophones, Anglophones, and members of cultural communities, are already living witnesses for the population they serve, that of a Church, the Body of Christ, that gives them the desire to encounter Christ, Lord and Saviour, who is already present in their lives.
The participants were invited to try various channels of interiority. For many, it was their first time listening to Taizé songs; descending into one-self, carried by the serenity and beauty of the music.
A second activity consisted in the projection of a short text interpreting a well-known parable. Although the text was very simple, meditating on it stirred a lot of emotion among the participants. So much so that even at lunchtime, the catechists were excited to share with each other the new discoveries they had made during this activity.
Finally, a gestural presentation, performed with brio by a group of young Tamils of the Notre-Dame-de-la-Délivrance community, placed us in the setting of the Old Testament, when the faithful expressed their joy and faith through dance, song, and cries of joy. "We would have liked to dance with them," declared one of the catechists.
The joy of sharing and Thanksgiving
In the afternoon, the catechists had the opportunity to hear some much-enjoyed testimonials, to share their experiences in light of these witnesses, and to listen to an address by their Archbishop with a very relevant and current interpretation of the parable of the prodigal son.
To conclude the day, the catechists were invited to celebrate a Thanksgiving Eucharist presided by Most Reverend Christian Lépine and his auxiliary, Bishop Alain Faubert. The catechists were able to enjoy the generous presence of their pastor, who remained with them for a long while at the end of the Mass.
At the day's end, after having asked several participants if they enjoyed the gathering, I can say that their mood compared to that of the disciples of Emmaus who asked each other: "Were not our hearts burning within us while [Jesus was with us today]?" (Luke 24:32)
Here is the seven-minute slideshow that was presented during the retreat. It displays a short text interpreting a well-known parable. Immerse yourself in this text. Let it sink into you. Meditate on it.