Secular Franciscans gathered from all over WA for their Retreat at the Redemptorist Monastery from September 12-14. Secular Franciscan Harry Argus reports on the experience for The Record.
Up to 35 members and friends of the Secular Franciscan Order came from Bunbury, Dardanup, Geraldton, Kalgoorlie and the Perth metropolitan area for their annual retreat.
Most members were accommodated in the retreat house, while meals were cooked and prepared by staff members of the house.
The retreat that was given by Sr M Shelley Barlow of the Sisters of Our Lady of the Missions began on Friday with evening prayer, after which the first of six very spiritual Franciscan talks began.
On the Saturday there were three very moving lectures during the morning, afternoon and evening; with valuable “quiet times” set aside to reflect between each of the talks. The Eucharist was celebrated at 11.30am by Franciscan Father Michael Brown, the appointed chaplain to the Secular Franciscan Order. During the times that Fr Michael was not available due to parish commitments, Deacon Dick Scallan SFO of the Diocese of Bunbury, and a member of the Secular Franciscan Order officiated at the Benediction, and led some of the prayers and blessings.
During the retreat the Secular Franciscan members were able to celebrate the anticipated memorial of St Francis receiving the Stigmata from Christ in September 1224 on Mount La Verna in Italy.
This celebration was held in the chapel of the Redemptorist Monastary’s retreat house on Saturday afternoon, at 2.30pm.
It was a moving prayerful ceremony, which also included hymns. Before the ceremony began, five lit candles had been placed on a Franciscan habit lying in front of the altar to indicate the wounds of Christ.
The Blessed Sacrament was exposed on the altar during the memorial, and Benediction followed the celebration.
After dinner and evening prayer on Saturday evening, there was a Holy Hour, where the Blessed Sacrament was again exposed for veneration and Benediction followed before retiring for the night at 10.00 pm. On the Sunday, there were two spiritual talks in the morning, and after lunch, Mass was celebrated by Fr Brown OFM, which closed the retreat.
During all of her uplifting spiritual lectures, Sr Shelley stressed the importance of everyone aiming to become like St Francis and see God in all of His creation. We must become humbler and look at nature to view the beauty and wonders of God. It was certainly a spiritually rewarding retreat for everyone present.
The retreat house is a peaceful place to find God amongst the troubles of the world. Many thanks must go to those who organised the retreat, and gave so much of their time in preparing every detail for the spiritual weekend.
Those interested in following the way and life of St Francis contact Michael McGuire on
(08) 92 752 006 or 0408 801 215.