by Bertha D’Sa
KUWAIT, FEBRUARY 26, 2014: On Saturday, 22nd February 2014, Fr. Franco Pereira, the Catechetical Director of the Apostolic Vicariate of Northern Arabia, assisted by Mr. Francis Sam, Catechetical Board Coordinator, organized a Retreat for the Catechists (and their spouses) of St. Therese Parish. At the very outset, the Parish Priest, Fr. Blany Pinto greeted all the participants and thanked Fr. Franco, Francis Sam and all those who helped in making the necessary arrangements at the Indian English Academy School (IEAS).
The retreat began with a powerful and enlightening film Amish Grace – a moving testament to the power of forgiveness as shown by the Amish community towards a killer of their children. Through the movie, Fr. Franco helped all present identify strong feelings of rage and revenge and discussed ways of overcoming the difficulty and complexity of the spiritual practice of forgiveness.
This was followed by reflections and a group discussion recalling 2 Cor. 12:9 “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness”. Agnes Dsouza remarked, “I learned a lot about forgiveness and my attitude has changed a lot…I am able to face the person I could not face earlier…Though it is not easy to forgive but with the Lord's grace and help I am able to forgive".
A session on “Expression of Love” depicting God’s unconditional love for us, by sending His only Son so that we might be saved, and Jesus’ forgiving love from the Cross (Lk 23:34) “Father forgive them for they know not what they do”. Fr. Franco explained the need to enrich our lives spiritually and by example, just as the Centurion was transformed by Jesus exclaiming “truly this was the Son of God”.
A short exercise made the group aware of their attachment and dependence on material things which brought to light the importance and benefits of “letting go”. “What I took away from the retreat was that it is not only possible to forgive myself but that it is liberating to do so” commented Myra Dsouza.
The retreat concluded with Confessions, followed by a beautiful Eucharistic celebration by Fr. Franco. Just before leaving, Hilda Alfonsa, the coordinator of the catechist, thanked all the animators, organizers and the choir for their support and encouragement. Premila Lewis commented, “The retreat was very well planned and organized by Fr. Franco. It has opened our hearts and minds to a deeper understanding of forgiveness. It was like recharging the batteries of our lives”.