Our preparation for the coming of our Saviour, during the season of Advent, became even more meaningful this year with the Full-Time Pastoral Worker’s Retreat held at Navjyoti Niketan, Patna. This two-day program from 6-7th December 2019 was packed with praise & worship, games, Holy Eucharist and powerful sessions delivered by our Country servant, A.V.Jose and our former country servant Tony Correia.
On the first day to break the ice and to make the atmosphere more cordial amongst the 40 people gathered there, we had games like Treasure Hunt and Dumb Charades which made us work as a team, cooperating and supporting one another as we ought to be doing in our pastoral work too.
Bro. Jose, in the first session, drew our attention to the parable of the unfruitful fig tree and made us introspect to see if our lives are leading to be like it. He reminded us to always keep in mind that it was God who called us and when we understand our call and live in fear of the Lord we are blessed with His protection, provision, mercy, grace and salvation. The fear of the Lord is not the knowledge of ‘how big my punishment will be’ rather ‘how big my sin is becoming,’ that is, the understanding of the greatness and awesomeness of our God and on the other hand, our nothingness. Bro. Jose also gave a clear list of things that we ought to be doing in order to become true servants of God. Praying unceasingly, having a clear conscience, being righteous and seeking the good of others will take us on that path, but most importantly, that we must never forget our calling.
In the next session, Bro. Jose updated us on the change of name of our community from Couples for Christ India to Missionary Families of Christ which was happily welcomed by everyone present there. In his session, he reiterated that we are a chosen people, set apart, through whom God wants to spread His Word. Our new name will enable us to move on with greater vigour and zeal, understanding that we are truly missionaries – each one of us.
We were happy to have Gregory Kadam, who gave us some valuable suggestions to rectify relationships with our spouse, children, relatives and others, also with the priests that we meet in the context of our work. Kelvin Castelino, in his session, reminded us on how to go about a one-to-one or heart-to-heart, as we have learnt it. During our sharings, we came to realize that this way of communication has really helped to deepen relationships between couples and also between parents and children. This was followed by Levin Gomes who shared on how to spend quality time with family, even when we are on mission.
The two days of togetherness and learning ended with a session on discipleship by Bro. Tony Correia where he diagrammatically explained our mission or service, which is – to be holy and save souls, in other words, Loving God and Loving Neighbor; and that can be achieved by spending our time, talent and treasure for God and respecting, forgiving and serving our fellow brothers and sisters. This in turn can be achieved by various means, one of which is community, where we come together in adoration, fellowship and breaking the Word of God and thus becoming true disciples. Emphasis was also put on being true stewards of the finances that God gives us. The aspect of judiciously spending or rather managing our finances was reinstated.
The best part of the retreat was the ‘take-home’ gift – envelopes with our names written on it that contained chits with positive comments from all our brothers and sisters. This was so encouraging for all of us and truly increased the enthusiasm with which we can work better for God’s kingdom.
We truly thank God for this beautiful opportunity that enabled us to come together from different parts of the country as one large family. We thank Bro. Elvis Coutinho and the team for the efforts that they put in to make these FTPW retreats more meaningful and fruitful. We are also grateful to Bro. Jose and Bro. Tony for sharing their experiences and insights and to Fr. George, who humbly celebrated the Sacraments of Reconciliation and Holy Eucharist for us. We eagerly await our next retreat in the New Year 2020.
May this season of Christmas fill us with joy, hope and a renewed spirit of humble service ushered in by the birth of our divine Saviour.