ALLOUEZ — The past year has been filled with countless challenges and blessings. The need for true connection has been more important than ever. Beginning in March of 2020, many of us had to adapt and think differently about work, school, social activities and almost every aspect of our daily lives. Adjustments were also made in the way we worship, pray together and grow in our faith.
Yet, through it all, each one of us desires to be known and loved. At a time when so many began to feel isolated, it was clear that there is a deeper longing for connection and a growing spiritual hunger across our diocese. In response to these needs, a committee of diocesan staff members, each from different areas of ministry, formed the “Spiritual Accompaniment Taskforce” (SAT).
The group’s purpose is to listen to the needs of our parishes, build relationships and nurture spiritual growth in times of trial. One theme that continuously rose to the surface was the desire to find light in the darkness. Psalm 34:18 reassures us, “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted.” We all need a reason to hope and to be reminded that Jesus is the ultimate reason for hope.
Last October, SAT organized a virtual evening retreat with Bishop David Ricken called “A Night of Hope.” Over 500 people participated from all across the diocese and around the country. Hundreds of prayer requests were sent in prior to the event, during the event itself and even for weeks afterward.
One participant wrote in to say, “I believe we all need to be uplifted during this difficult time in our country and world. Having our shepherd, Bishop Ricken, was such a wonderful experience. His sincere caring of each of us is just what I needed.”
The evening was filled with many beautiful moments and was the first of what we hope will be many virtual retreats to come.
As we enter into this Lenten season, we are again reminded to seek that light in the darkness and to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus. Lent is a beautiful time to pause, to turn our gaze toward the hope of the Resurrection and to allow ourselves to be loved by God.
On Monday, March 8, from 6:30 to 8 p.m., all are invited to experience this love, perhaps in a new way. The diocese will host a Lenten evening of reflection with Bishop Ricken titled “Pause, Praise and Prayer.”
The retreat will provide a moment to pause from all the busyness of the world, to praise our God in song with one of our local parishes and to pray along with several religious orders throughout the diocese who will be interceding on our behalf.
The retreat will be hosted through Zoom so that, even though we are not able to gather in person at this time, we are still able to experience community through a virtual gathering with our sisters and brothers from all across the Diocese of Green Bay, and beyond.
Bishop Ricken reminds us that “God’s healing mercy and light is open to us if we approach him with an open heart. He wants to love us, to free us and to give us hope.” Wherever you are on your journey of faith, all are welcome.
For more information about this free, virtual retreat and how to sign up, visit gbdioc.org/pause. Our prayer is that the evening will be a time to truly pause to enter more deeply into the Lenten season and allow ourselves to be loved by Jesus.
Rosenthal is discipleship support coordinator for the diocesan Parish Life and Evangelization Mission Team.