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Catholic Professionals on a spiritual journey

-      Kila Ai


Members of the Catholic Professionals Society (CPS) gathered for their annual retreat at Nazareth House of Prayer, Bomana, Port Moresby. 


The retreat had as its theme, “Our Call to Catholic Holiness’.  It commenced on the 8th and concluded on the 10th March 2019, with a total of 16 participants.  


The retreat program was part of the Spiritual Journey of the members and comprised of reflections given by the retreat director Fr Sylvester Warwakai msc on topics that focused on the role of the laity in the church. Discussions and reflections followed the talks.  


Fr Ambrose Pereira sdb, Spiritual Director of CPS was also present for the entire duration of the retreat. A meeting was held at the end of the Retreat.


The Biblical perspective of the retreat was the story of Elijah seeking the presence of God and of St. Paul’s journey to and spending three years in Arabia prior to his conversion on his way to Damascus.  Fr Sylvester invited the participants to silence and reflect on situations in which they have sought God and where they have been called by God.  He asked them to look at similarities in their lives basing themselves on the experience of Elijah and St. Paul.  There were very good discussions and sharing by participants.  The appropriate introduction set the scene for the rest of the retreat.  Evening prayer then followed.


‘Role, Vocation and Mission of the Laity’ was the topic of the second session.  He drew on the the life of Blessed Peter ToRot as a model for the laity to follow.  In referring to the laity by St. Pope John Paul II, Fr. Sylvester explained that the laity are the living stones of the church and as baptised children of God are involved in the redemptive mission and work of Christ Jesus.  “Each person has gifts that should be used to build the kingdom of God”, he said.


The reflection on the relationship between that laity and the clergy highlighted certain issues regarding clericalism, the structure and hierarchy of the church and the direction being taken by Pope Francis for a more pastoral approach of dealing with church matters.  In the context of PNG, he highlighted that the clergy often do not understand the challenges faced by the laity particularly the cultural aspects. In many cases it was pointed out that priest often become ‘wounded healers’.  Also covered in the reflections was that issue of the core responsibilities of lay people in the church and their individual response to God.


From the reflections and discussions, it was clear that there is need for proper communion between bishops and the laity.  The laity can play an important role in pastoral programs, as well as outside of the church premises and more in the communities.


The retreat with its moments of intense prayer and reflections, the celebration of the Sacrament of the Eucharist and the Sacrament of Reconciliation and the bond of interaction at Nazareth House, has renewed given the participants energy and focus to enable them to move to the next stage of the CPS program.


The concluding mass was celebrated with the AD sisters, the oldest local religious congregation and others who joined in for the celebration. A cheque of K 50,000/- was presented to Sr. Mary Garnier AD for their pastoral ministry.  This was a result of the fund raising done for the congregation in 2018.


At the Catholic Professionals meeting that the vision and mission was emphasized, and members were reminded to consolidate their way forward after the retreat.  The members approved its five-year strategic plan 2019-2023, its five-year formation plan and its 2019 annual work plan.  Activities to be undertaken this year as part of the year of laity include the Annual General Meeting, a workshop on the environment, a Catholic Festival and a Catholic Expo.


The retreat was successful, enriching and thoroughly enjoyed by all participants.  The President of the CPS thanked everyone who attended including the retreat director Fr. Sylvester and CPS Spiritual Director Fr. Ambrose.    

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