Three Promises: A Reflection on Diaconate Retreat

It’s been a crazy week/weekend so far. I finished my retreat Friday morning, and left Friday afternoon for my friend’s diaconate ordination in Springfield, IL. I stayed there overnight (free lodging is a goooooood thing!) and am finally back and getting ready to return to Mundelein sometime tomorrow night.

I should probably be packing things up, but … nah! plenty of time for that later!

But a little about the diaconate retreat. I had probably the most significant retreat of my seminary time, and that was a really cool thing. The retreat director was an oldish (70’s) Jesuit who has been doing this retreat for Mundelein for 20 years. Unfortunately, that kind of showed in his presentation, as it was full of a lot of cliche things that he’s probably been using from time immemorial. But the bulk of his stuff was actually pretty good. The retreat house was very nice — lots of good scenery, well maintained and very clean. I was with a lot of my classmates I don’t usually hang out with, and had a great time. So all in all, it was cool.

The best part, though, was that there was plenty of time for long walks and time to reflect. One of those was after the talk on celibacy, and I took the time to pray over my three promises. It was incredibly consoling to know at the end of the walk that I feel ready to make those promises now.

I feel like my work in seminary on dealing with conflict has made me more able to make a promise of obedience in the best sense of the word: to follow my bishops’ orders with generosity, but able to make my own needs known and not pretending they’re not important. As far as the prayer promise goes, I know that prayer is central to my pastoral ministry and that pastoral ministry is central to my prayer. I can’t do one without the other. And as for celibacy, I have to say that probably the reason I feel ready to live that promise is the time I spent discussing it with my CPE group. It was either TV or SM (maybe both) who said that having that discussion was like being on holy ground. Well, it was for me too. And I have come to know that healthy relationships with others — Catholics and non-Catholics alike — is central to living as a healthy celibate man in the world.

It was a great retreat, and it helped me to solidify my vocational call, which after all is the whole point of a retreat. Thanks again for your prayer support. Diaconate ordination is something like 62 days and counting! 🙂

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