Frj82’s Blog

September 1, 2009

September RB Article

On Tuesday, August 18 the members of the Central Diocese Clergy all met for their Summer retreat and Clergy Conference at the Villa of Our Lady House in Mt. Pocono, PA. Most of the clergy of the diocese were in attendance. The retreat was led by Msgr. John Mraz, a Roman Catholic priest from the diocese of Allentown. Father Mraz introduced himself and his scope and idea of retreat during the first day, focusing on individual and collective ministry of a priest to his people. He was a brief speaker, leaving time for everyone to question and ponder some of the finer points of his discussion.

Personally, one of the things he did for me was open my memory banks (not so long ago) of my path to the priesthood. I thought of those individuals who were inspiring through the years – I recalled at that moment a song that was played and dedicated to me the week of my ordination, a card that I received recently that was almost embarrassing it was so complimentary.

I thought and prayed about what was inspiring to me today – those who in two and a half years have opened their hearts, homes, and refrigerators to me as both a pastor and as a friend. It can be humbling to really stop and think about those things at times. Although the spirituality and educated speakers is important, the part that sticks with the guys is easily the time shared with each other. Sitting around with guys you went to seminary with, guys from the same part of the country, or someone you have little in common with besides a calling.

At one point, I sat at a table of priests who all had English as a second language, but have been around long enough to easily understand casual conversation…until they attempted to listen to my own fast-talking, New England tinted, slang –filled jokes, stories, and of course, the tale of my engagement the week prior (sorry love-lorn ladies of the PNCC).

The retreat, led by Father Mraz and presided over by our Diocesan Bishop, the Rt. Rev. Anthony Mikovsky, was highlighted by moments of prayer, a liturgy of the Sacrament of Penance, Holy Mass, and Polish Vespers. There were many sights to see, many odd occurrences that seemingly could only happen on a spiritual retreat. As I traveled back and forth from Scranton, I was treated to getting out of my car and having a deer not even 10 feet from me in the road. I couldn’t help but stare at the Rosary draped around the crucifix in the conference room…stretched out it has to be about 8 feet long. I noticed the reserved seating in the front row of the chapel. Makes a PNCC priest feel at home, but they weren’t for the ANS, but for the Franciscan Sisters that take care of the place. And who couldn’t help but notice this holy, secluded place was a mere few hundred yards from another holy, secluded place…Mt. Airy Lodge and Casino.

As the retreat closed and the business session of the Clergy Conference wrapped up, we acknowledged the first National Clergy Conference in many years for our church. The priests of the diocese left on Thursday afternoon with a bit of inspiration, recharged, bellies full, and eager to get back to the people they minister to.

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