The Handmaids of North Goa finally had their long awaited Handmaids Enrichment Retreat, “HER“, at Dassya in Porvorim. The retreat began on 25th of March, a beautiful day, which marks the Feast of the Annunciation. Twenty Handmaids from 7 different chapters of North Goa arrived at Dassya well before time, as punctuality is the hallmark of the Handmaids.
The program began with a lively praise and worship which set the tone for the weekend. The first session “A Call to Holiness” was delivered by Susan Velho and the talk was in line with the theme for the year. During the session, the speaker highlighted God’s call to Holiness, how Holiness is often misunderstood and how one can become a holy woman of God. The talk also encouraged us to support one another in our call to Holiness and to be faithful to our Covenant. The session concluded and was followed by a group discussion.
The second session was on “Inner Healing“, given by Veronica D’Souza. The talk on Healing of emotions made the participants reflect on the various stages of their life. The speaker emphasized on the importance of forgiveness and how it is a doorway to emotional and physical healing. This coupled with her personal sharing, made an impression on the inner core of the handmaids and encouraged them to introspect. The participants were taught and encouraged to do their own personal forgiveness. The team members consisting of Fatima Rodrigues, Deanne D’Souza, Sonia Figueiredo, Susan Velho, Lalita Victor and Veronica D’Souza were there to listen, empathize, and counsel the participants. The session ended reciting the Rosary.
On 27th early morning, the Handmaids offered their personal prayers followed by the Eucharist Celebration at 7:00a.m. The main celebrant for the mass was Fr. Rineld D’Souza SJ. and it was beautifully animated by the Handmaids from Calangute Chapter. The Eucharistic meal was followed by an Inner Healing Prayer, which then flowed into a pray over, washing of the feet and warm hugs. Each and every handmaid was deeply moved during the Inner Healing session. Many experienced emotional healing and were comforted being hugged and hugging one another through tears of joy.
After a break and light time of fellowship, the next session “Serving God Through Others” was given by Lalita Victor. The session made the handmaids aware that we have redemption and forgiveness in Jesus and we need to serve God whole heartedly. Our whole attitude should be that of Serving God and neighbour with our time, treasure, and talent.
The final talk “Rebuilding Our Lives For Christ” was delivered by Sonia Figueiredo. She highlighted the importance of surrendering our lives, past, present and future into God’s hands. She also emphasized on the characteristics of a Holy Woman of God and encouraged the participants to make decisions to rebuild and create a new life for Christ, as also to prepare an action plan, to pursue it and implement the same.
The handmaids spent some time in preparing their action plan after lunch. Some of the sisters shared their experiences at the Handmaids Enrichment Retreat “HER” retreat. However, some handmaids were the lone representatives of their chapter and had apprehensions about mixing with the others, they left having forged close bonds. The Handmaids after a few action songs hugged, kissed and waved each other a fond farewell.
It was a truly memorable weekend and given below are some sharing’s from the participants.
Loretta: I now feel having made the right decision to attend the Handmaids Enrichment Retreat “HER”. It was really an “Enrichment” retreat in real sense for me, as the Speakers were impressive and their sessions touched me. The Inner-healing segment of the HER gripped me as the talk on Inner Healing moved me personally and is helping me grow out of some difficult situations in my family. Finally I must appreciate the HER team for their selfless and committed effort in organizing the retreat. Every requirementright from registrationto rooms-to-the main hall where the Retreat was conducted-to-dining-till depature , everthing.was taken care of by the Handmaids. Food quality was very good. Every participant of the retreat had lots to give of themselves. Handmaids Enrichment Retreat “HER” was worth attending.
Patricia: Praise God. The Handmaids Enrichment Retreat programme was truly a uplifting retreat. My thoughts on the retreat cannot be expressed in words. I have been emotionally affected and I feel a sense of peace. The sessions were truly interesting and it brought tears to my eyes with the love and openness of the people reaching out. On the whole, it was a breather with friends to spend time with Christ and to be open to receiving the spiritual gifts given by God. It was a kind of a spiritual gym session which left us feeling fit, refreshedand relaxed. Big thanks to the team for all their efforts. Secondly, the wonderful food, spiritual and physical with so much to take away and spend time thinking about. Thanks and God bless
Lucy: Firstly, Handmaids Enrichment Retreat “HER” was a break for me from our routine lives. Secondly, it gave us an opportunity to come together as an extended family and meet our other handmaid sisters. Thirdly, by listening to the teachings of the word of God, it gave us added grace to move ahead. The testimonies strengthened our faith and also gave us courage to face our life’s challenges and situations. It also helped to grow spiritually and. the fellowship gave us an opportunity to interact with our other handmaid sisters. where we heard each other’s journey. All in all Handmaids Enrichment Retreat “HER” was a fruitful experience. Thank you and God bless.
Louella: The Handmaids Enrichment Retreat (H.E.R) was the most heart mind and soul filling retreat, that I’ had been to in a long time. The cheerful, loving atmosphere of the PANJIM HANDMAIDS organising the Retreat could be felt as soon as we walked in. Our vivacious, smiling and affectionate handmaids team handed us our badges and escorted us to our rooms. Everything was well organized from the “lively” talks, the ‘soul-baring’ sharing’s, the ‘confidential’ group discussions-to the-wonderful yummy food. The most touching part of the retreat was the “washing of the feet by our ‘young-at-heart’ sisters and it led most of us to shed tears. During the retreat I made some lovely and loving ‘new’ friends”. Our Calangute cherries, which were one of the biggest groups (6 members) got a chance to bond, as we were chosen to conduct the Sunday’s Eucharistic Celebration. At which the Priest gave a wonderful homily that touched all our hearts, to see such “unwavering & powerful love for our lord” amazing. However, I have a lot to learn. God bless you all and a big thank you.
Adelaide: What touched me the most at Handmaids Enrichment Retreat H.E.R was the inner healing session. I Have been to an inner healing session before but never felt so touched like this one. I found myself forgiving my husband for hurting and abandoning us and the pain caused for leaving me. The washing of the feet symbolized to me the washing away of my pain and asking the Lord to forgive all those who have hurt me and also seeking forgiveness for hurting others in anyway. Finally, after hugging fellow handmaids I felt the Lord hugging me and consoling me, which made me feel good.
Jacqueline: The Handmaids Enrichment Retreat H.E.R retreat was so enriching, the inner healing exercise was a real experience and it’s an ongoing process. The hugging and washing of feet was something really meaningful. Thanks for organising such a programme.
Zelia: After my feet were washed during the Handmaids Enrichment Retreat, I experienced a change, which made me feel that all my pain was washed away and I was born again.
Cynthia: What I have gained from the Handmaids Enrichment Retreat H.E.R is not to worry about those who are cross with you and not want to forgive them, but it is about you forgiving them.
Aurora: A year after my husband John expired I joined the Handmaids group. I had the opportunity to attend the Handmaids Enrichment Retreat H.E.R retreat and it was a wonderful and God filled experience. I got to meet other Handmaids from different Chapters of Goa and all were very kind hearted persons, as expected from CFC. The highlight of course were the talks, all well prepared and given by our sisters. Especially the talk on Inner healing was so calming it really affected me in such a way that I could feel peace within me. It helped me to let go of so many hurts and grudges that were bottled up inside. By the end of the session I experienced Inner healing and peace.
Branca: It was an amazing spiritually enriching experience at the Handmaids Enrichment Retreat H.E.R. The varioustalks helped me to renew my encounterwith God and to love and serve one another as Jesus did. The presentation on Call to holiness emphasized the qualities required to be committed to God and my neighbours. The inner Healing session helped me to forgive all those who hurt me, which brought immense peace to my soul. The washing of our feet was very touching.
Julia: It was a wonderful and unique experience for me when I attended the Handmaids Enrichment Retreat “H.E.R” . Initially I was not very keen and had a genuine reason not to attend the retreat but when my handmaids sisters encouraged and convinced me to attend it. We were warmly welcomed when we arrived and after that every moment everything was different for me. We had action songs and hymns, talks appropriate on spiritual renewal, fellowship – strengthened our bonds of love and friendship. Reflections made us ponder on forgiveness and divine intervention, through sharing’s we opned our feelings and experiences to other and group discussions helped us to relieve our suppressed sufferings. The Eucharistic Celebration mainly enriched us with the food of life. What amazed me most was the way the speakers presented their topics so beautifully with a lot of skill and preparation. Of course, the Lord did not make us miss our homes, as we were provided delicious food at the appropriate times. Everything was so systematic and well organised. I thank God for making it possible for me to avail of this opportunity and I also thank the organisers for all that we have acquired and for making our stay at Dassya very comfortable.
Joanna: What touched me at the Handmaids Enrichment Retreat H.E.R was the oneness, teaching on holiness, meaning of inner healing, inner healing received through counselling and learning to serve God through others.
Greta: I was inspired and enriched with the talk on forgiveness and I hope and pray we have more programs like this one.
Marcia: It was very bonding. We were like one big family free and easy with each other.