This was my very first spiritual retreat. It was last May 8-10, 2015 at Morningstar Renewal Center in Miami. This retreat was led by Monsignor Chanel Jeanty, from the archdiocese of Miami, and facilitated by Father Dumarsais Pierre-Louis, from West Palm Beach.
We were 27, mostly women, from Saint Malachy in Broward and Saint Philip Neri in Miami, to participate in this event.
I hesitated to go. It conflicted with May 8, my birthday, and a couple of other professional events and speaking engagements I had at the same moment.
I made arrangement to be there on Friday and Saturday. I have been following Monsignor Jeanty’s preaching, and leadership for the last 12 months, and wanted to be part of this event to be closer to him.
I left home early to avoid the Friday South Miami traffic. I used my cell phone google map and that lady’s voice called Sirius to direct me to the place very easily.
Monsignor was already there with Mahalia and Greta, two other saint Malachy parishioners, preparing the room, names tags, setting the sound and other things.
I helped to fix the room, putting the chairs in circle instead of theater style. Then, Monsignor was playing guitar, singing, and repeating the songs on the retreat’s agenda.
I stayed in silence. Then, I went outside.
Some of Saint Malachy parishioners were arriving. They told me how difficult it was to find the place. They looked tired and went directly to their rooms.
I moved away walking alone exploring the yard. I was thinking about nothing when a young lady came around with a bright smile sitting on a bench not far from me.
She laid down her backpack and asked me if the registration has started yet.
I replied positively and told her my name. She told me her name..
She knew her way around. She invited me to visit the adoration place at the nearby church Saint-Louis. I followed her.
This place was like a monastery. I opened a huge iron, decorated gate, got into the room where two ladies were quietly meditating. I sat and wrote my notes.
She covered her short hair with a piece of cloth and started her adoration. Then we left the place.
I asked her about the retreat and what to expect from it. “You get from a retreat what you expect. You have to ask God what you want”, she told me.
“Talk to God as a friend, open a relationship with Him, open your heart and He will come”, she continued.
“God does the same thing, He talks to you as a brother, as a father, as a baby”, she told me with a soft smiling voice.
“Why should I invite him when He’s already everywhere”, I asked her.
“He gave us a free will to accept Him or not. We have to make the choice to accept Him”, she said telling me to “Just by talk to Him as you talk to a friend”.
Alamania went back to the registration table at the center. I told her I look forward to continue our conversation.
She replied “Ok” nodding her head up and down with poise and calmness.
I turned off my phone, went to my room and left it behind, and walked back to the retreat gathering.
The young lady was around. I asked her about the purpose and the sense of meaning of her life.
She responded at the speed of thought: “to love, and to radiate love to everyone”.
“Love is self-gift, love is self-sacrificing, she said.
We got into the dining room to listen to Monsignor Jeanty and Cecile talking about the retreat process and to have some food.
Monsignor Jeanty said this will be a closed retreat in silence. And “Silence means you close your mouth”, he said.
It’s Friday, May 8, 2015. It’s 6:35pm. Monsignor Jeanty said we are officially in retreat.
I will tell you more next time.