by Diana Vaz
NORTH ARABIAN VICARIATE, October 31, 2014: On October 25, 2014, the Parish Council organized a one-day retreat for all the members of the different Ministries of the St. Therese Church, Kuwait. The Retreat was conducted by Rev. Fr. Franco Pereira, SDB – Catechetical Director for the Apostolic Vicariate of Northern Arabia.
The retreat was well attended by over fifty parishioners and commenced with prayer, followed by the movie "Amish Grace". The movie was heart rendering and focused on some important facts of life – the commandment given by Jesus is to Love one another and that love comes from forgiving. "Wow! Forgiveness is not an option for us…it is a blessing and the only way to achieve peace" remarked Stephen Machado, Eucharistic Minister and Lector at St. Therese.
Upon the conclusion of the movie, all present then formed small groups to share views on the four key elements of the film: Amish Culture and Values, Tragedy: My choice – Reaction or Response?, Spirituality of Forgiveness and Grief, Justice and God's Providence. There were also questions for group discussion which brought out the dark areas of ones lives into the marvelous mercy and light of God. A short session using a small palm-sized rock as a prop made them aware of their attachment and dependence on material things. Through this exercise they learned the importance and benefits of "letting go". They felt prepared to receive God's grace and mercy through the sacrament of confession.
This year being the 'Year of the Church', it was appropriate that Fr. Franco briefed the participants on the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church – Lumen Gentium. The Retreat came to a close with the Eucharistic celebration by Fr. Franco. The God's Love Community Prayer Group surprised Fr. Franco with a cake since it was his birthday and sang the birthday song followed by the blessing song. Fr. Franco was overwhelmed and thanked all members for this kind gesture. All members left with smiles and were given a slice of cake.
Leela Mathias, a Lector, member of the Family Cell and member of the Hospital Visitation Ministry wrote in to say, "God put me to the test later that same day. I struggled with detachment but thanks to the exercise on the stone I could work my way through the process".