“A golden opportunity to mature in faith,” is how Father Daniel Ribeiro, parish vicar at the Cathedral of the Nativity of Our Lady, summarizes the significance of the in-depth spiritual retreat that was held this past week at the Diocesan Retreat House in Coloane under his guidance.
The three-day weekend retreat, which lasted from Friday to Sunday, was the fourth of its kind in which the Dehonian missionary took upon himself the role of spiritual director. The initiative’s aim, the Brazilian priest told O Clarim, was to help the participants to deepen their faith and primarily to provide them with a personal encounter with God. “This was the fourth retreat in which I have been involved. In my opinion, these moments of spiritual recollection are some of the most important endeavors of evangelization that take place in Macau. And why is that so? Because it is an opportunity for participants to meet God,” Father Ribeiro says.
“Even before being invited to serve God, Catholics are sent a personal invitation to encounter God. In order for them to encounter God, moments of silence and meditation are needed. A retreat like this one – without a cell phone, without the internet to distract them – provides the participants with a good deal of opportunity to meditate on the proposed texts; it is a golden opportunity for people to mature in faith,” the parish vicar of the cathedral parish reiterates.
About two dozen members of the local Catholic flock took part in the retreat, many of whom had joined previous editions of the initiative. During the three days of spiritual recollection, the participants submitted to various periods of prayer and meditation, which offered them multiple opportunities to strengthen their faith. “The retreat included a period of reflection on Saturday morning, a moment of reflection on Saturday afternoon and, finally, a new invitation to meditate on Sunday morning. The Eucharist was celebrated every day and there was a time slot reserved for Confession and spiritual direction. Each and every one among the participants had the opportunity to speak personally with the priest,” Father Ribeiro says.
“Those who usually take part in the retreats end by repeating the experience or by inviting other people to join. It offers them a very strong experience, in which they have the opportunity to take care of themselves: to stop, slow down and reflect on their life and spirituality. It is a moment in which the presence of God is strongly felt,” the Dehonian missionary asserts.
The parish vicar of the Cathedral of the Nativity of Our Lady claims that the retreat is also a central piece of the spiritual formation process directed at local Catholics, and it makes an essential contribution to bring them closer to the Church: “The retreat is an important part of the formative process aimed at the Portuguese-speaking community here in Macau. There are monthly sessions of spiritual formation at Saint Dominic’s Church, which take place on the last Saturday of each month and then there is an annual retreat to strengthen the community spiritually,” Father Ribeiro explains.
“I have absolutely no doubt that retreats bring people closer to the Church. When Catholics take part in a retreat, they realize that the Church is concerned with their spirituality and not just with experiencing the sacraments, such as Confession, Mass or pastoral work,” the parish vicar of the Macau cathedral concludes.