Spiritual renewal and the retreat of the Collegio Maggiore St Alphonsus, Rome

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The Redemptorists (students) residing at the St. Alphonsus College in Rome, and pursuing their Masters and Doctorate studies, had a retreat preached to them by Rev. Fr. General, Rogerio Gomes C.Ss.R. from 9th to 11th December 2022 at the retreat house of the Passionist Fathers. It is situated in the heart of Rome and surrounded by a beautiful garden that overlooks the Colosseum and other important landmarks. It provided the right ambiance for the students to pause their studies, refresh themselves and reflect on their lives as Redemptorists.

Fr. Rogerio Gomes C.Ss.R., the recently elected Superior General hails from the Province of Sao Paulo in Brazil. He has completed his doctorate in Moral Theology at the Alphonsian Academy and taught courses in Bioethics and Morals in Brazil. He has previously been a formator, professor, and provincial. As a General Consultor in the previous team, he is abreast with the strengths and challenges of the Congregation.

Fr. Rogerio based the retreat on the story of the Samaritan woman who encounters Jesus near the well, in the Gospel of John (Jn 4:7-42). Just as the Samaritan woman encountered Jesus near the well and was invited to drink of the water of life, we were invited to recollect our own encounter with Jesus in our vocation story and share it with a confrere. At the same time to listen to his vocation story, and thus be strengthened. It was a unique experience, very different from the usual personal and silent retreats, as it was a journey together with others, sharing and strengthening each other.

Then, just as the Samaritan woman had claimed that she had five husbands, we were invited to identify the five ‘husbands’, the five idols in our lives. More specifically, the five idols of consecrated (Redemptorist) life, namely:

  1. Lack of faith in what one professes
  2. The pursuit of power
  3. Lack of fraternity
  4. Lack of availability
  5. Lack of closeness to the people of God

This line of reflection was again refreshing for its intra-personal focus, different from the usual focus on personal sin as idols before God.

Lastly, we reflected on the formation of disciples. Just as the Samaritan woman brought others to Jesus, we are called to do the same. The pertinent question is: Is my way of life a witness, to draw others to Jesus? Fr. Rogerio then spoke about the challenges in the initial formation process and emphasized the importance of the process of discernment.

At the concluding Eucharist, we were joined by the six general consultors. Fr. Rogerio invited us to write our experience of the retreat on a piece of paper. After everyone had written their experiences, the papers were distributed randomly. Fr. Rogerio then explained that this act symbolized that we are the keepers of the dreams of our brothers! Thus, the retreat ended as it began, not as individuals, but as brothers; as one family of the Redemptorists who are journeying together to make His plentiful Redemption known to others!

 Fr. Antonio Derrek Da Cruz, CSsR.

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