The Emmaus Ministry for Grieving Parents Retreat at St. Patrick-St. Anthony Church
Dec 7 2013 4:00AM to 8:00 PM
St. Patrick-St. Anthony Church
285 Church St
Hartford CT, 06103
During these dark and dreary days of winter, may you feel the joy and promise of the Christ Child’s love. Recently we arrived home after a Spirit-filled day of sharing, love, and prayer at Saint Patrick-Saint Anthony Church (SPSA) in Hartford, CT.
It was a heart wrenching, but wonderful, day led by Fr., Tom Gallagher, OFM, Pastor of SPSA. After a calming centering prayer led by Sr. Virginia Sheehan, SND, and our traditional Candle Lighting Opening Prayer Service, Fr. Tom offered a unique perspective in his Reflection on Luke: 24, the Road to Emmaus. Given the ministry’s name, logo, and mission, Fr. Tom’s talk was particularly poignant, especially when he talked about the disciples going into the dark, meeting Jesus on the way, then going back into the dark on the way home carrying the light of His love.
Fourteen parents joined us at the retreat, including eight new parents and six returning parents. . Retreat Team Companions included Spiritual Leader Fr. Tom Gallagher, OFM; Pastoral Associate Patricia Curtis; Spiritual Directors Peggy Hassett and Sr. Virginia Sheehan, SND; Beth Rapoza, sister of Paul; and Emmaus Ministry parents, including Natalie and Jon Welsh, parents of Jacky; Janet and Danny Boyd, parents of Kelly and Amy; Jean Jarvis, mother of Steven, and Charley and Diane Monaghan, parents of Paul.
Most of the participating parents were from the Hartford area. One mother lost two sons and a grandson. One father lost a son only six month ago, while a mother was preparing for the 20th anniversary of her son’s death. About half the group was comprised of couples; the other half, individuals. For the first time in the history of the minsitry, two individual fathers joined the group.
Throughout the day, members of the church’s Prayer Network supported parents at the retreat by keeping vigil at the church. House of Bread, an urban ministry for the economically disadvantaged in the Hartford area, provided catering services.
The day concluded with a wonderful dinner in the Friary of Saint Patrick-Saint Anthony, hosted by Fr. Tom Gallagher, OFM, joined by Fr. Andrew Giardino, OFM, and Fr, John Leonard, OFM, and Hunter, the Friary’s official black lab mascot.
Comments from parents included…
“Fr. Tom was great.”
“It was inspirational to be in the presence of such courageous people.”
“It is too bad that suffering is necessary to make us vulnerable to be real.”
“Though I can’t predict the long term impact of today, I do feel a tangible peace that I didn’t have yesterday.”
“I am so thankful to ‘free’ my feelings with others.”
“The Emmaus Walk touched my soul in no other way since my son died.”
The Connecticut Retreat Team of Parent Companions hopes to establish the ministry at SaintAnthony-Saint Patrick Church on an ongoing basis. Please contact us if intersted in participating.
Upcoming weekend retreats for the Emmaus Ministry for Grieving Parents include the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, WV Retreat on June 6-8, 2014 and the Duxbury, MA Retreat on November 7-9, 2014. Other weekend and one-day retreats will be added. Stay tuned!
Peace and comfort,