October 7, 2022


After what seemed like forever, the clergy of the Archeparchy of Winnipeg gathered with Metropolitan Lawrence Huculak for five days of spiritual renewal through prayer, meditation, rest and fellowship. Due to the many months of Covid-19 restrictions, the clergy of Manitoba were unable to gather in-person until this year. Those that could made their way to Hecla Island in the first week of October for a full schedule of liturgical services and especially inspirational talks given this year by the Provincial Superior of the Basilian Fathers in Canada - the Very Rev. Gabriel Haber, OSBM. Father Gabriel's talks, were brief and concise, but provided a lot of food for thought throughout the day with numerous points and quotes for reflection. His talks, of course, touched upon all aspects of priestly ministry - including care for one's own spiritual wellbeing as well as zeal for the pastoral oversight of those entrusted to a priest's care.

Father Jay Korban of Rossburn was in charge of turning a meeting room into a worthy chapel. This he accomplished to an amazing degree. Those who spent time there, whether for liturgical services or for times of quiet prayer, felt as though they were in a long-established place or worship. Due to popular demand, the last time that the clergy were able to hold an in-person retreat, this year the our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament was reserved at that Altar making the chapel truly a place where one could encounter the living Christ throughout the retreat. Father Mark Gnutel the overall organizer of the retreat - arranged the liturgical schedule by which clergy could take turns serving in various roles throughout the five days.


One of the always solemn and moving moments of the retreat is when Metropolitan Lawrence leads those gathered in a panakhyda service for the former bishops of Winnipeg as well as the clergy that have passed from among their ranks since the last time they gathered in retreat. Among those mentioned this year were Archbishop Vasyl Ladyka, OSBM, Metropolitan Maxim Hermaniuk, CSsR, Metropolitan Michael Bzdel, CSsR, as well as Fathers Nestor Baraniouk, Emil Kardasinec, Edward Kwiatkowski, Djura Maljik and Len Ratushniak, CSsR, as well as deacon Walter Knysh.


It is a relatively brief opportunity that the clergy from across Manitoba - priests and deacons and seminarians, together with their bishop - have to refresh themselves in the waters of undistracted prayer and reflection, but the clergy make the best of it. Some have compared it to a soldier's temporary leave for a break from the daily rigours of the front, or something akin to a pit-stop in a lengthy race during which the vehicle obtains essential maintenance to keep on going. Perhaps the best understanding of a clergy retreat is the way that Pope St. John Paul put it in his post-synodal exhortation on Priestly formation - Pastores Dabo Vobis, n. 80, "There are also spiritual gatherings for priests, such as spiritual exercises, days of recollection and spirituality, etc. These are opportunities for spiritual and pastoral growth, in which one can devote more time to pray in peace; opportunities to get back to what it means deep down to be a priest, to find fresh motives for faithfulness and pastoral endeavour."

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