Moises Perez, an eager participant in a late January weekend spiritual retreat at the Hispanic Catholic Charismatic Center in the Bronx, said the gathering helped him prepare to be a more active server of the Lord, a more devoted deliverer of the Good News.
“It was a beautiful retreat; it was very healing,” Perez told The Good Newsroom after the event’s closing Mass at the adjacent St. Anthony of Padua Church on East 166th Street. “There were many beautiful things that we learned about how to be servers of God.” The three-day retreat ended late Sunday afternoon, Jan. 29. About 350 people attended the Mass, including nearly 190 registered retreat participants.
“There are many things that God places in our journey so that we can be His servers, so we can be His disciples, and for us to be brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus. This is what we need to transmit to the world. We as servers of Christ need to evangelize and give testimony on what Christ does for us, to proclaim that Christ Jesus lives,” Perez said. He added that the retreat was very profound, “more than I had expected.”
Perez is a parishioner of St. John the Evangelist in White Plains.
The retreat was open to active Church laity who had already taken two previous retreats in the Charismatic Renewal formation process. It was titled “Retreat for Leaders, Servers, and Ministry Members.”
Auxiliary Bishop Joseph A. Espaillat, the pastor of St. Anthony of Padua, led the retreat and celebrated the closing Mass. Bishop Espaillat is also the spiritual adviser of the New York archdiocesan Charismatic Renewal. The retreat’s closing liturgy was celebrated during the parish’s regularly scheduled 3 p.m. Sunday Spanish Mass, and so regular Mass-goers were also in attendance.
“Being Catholic is a way of life; being Catholic is a way of breathing, a way of walking,” Bishop Espaillat said during his homily, noting that it doesn’t mean simply saying that one is Catholic, or that one attends Mass. “Dear servers; dear brothers and sisters, the Church needs you. And during this weekend we found our identities, including me…The world today is filled with people who are very confused because they do not know the Creator; they do not know the One who made them.”
The bishop added, “And this is very important: to recognize that our dignity, our value doesn’t come from the world. Our dignity, and our value come from God. Amen?”
And the faithful said, “Amen.”
“I do not follow what man does. I do what God commands me!” the bishop exclaimed, greeted with loud cheers and applause.
Bishop Espaillat also spoke of the importance of humility, the significance of service, and the need to faithfully spread the Good News of the Lord. “Humility is the truth,” he noted. “If you remain humble in the middle of tribulations, everything will be easier.”
“There is one word for this; there is one word for all of this. It is called: humility,” he said, citing the day’s Mass readings. “If we want to be saints, we need to be humble…We still have a long way to go, but I congratulate you because you are in search; this is positive, and this is good. It is good news for us, that maybe we have a long way to go, but God is with us even though we are broken people. God continues to call you. He continues to use us (to do His good works and spread His Good News)…Read the Word; our sustenance is in the Word of God.”
The first reading was from Zephaniah 2: “Seek the Lord, all you humble of the earth, who have observed his law; seek justice, seek humility.”
The Gospel reading was from Matthew 5: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven…Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.”
Perez from the White Plains parish was among four retreat participants who gave testimonials at the end of Mass; the other three were Gabriel Grande, Francisca Gautreux, and Veronica Reyes. They all spoke in heartfelt ways about the special uplifting they experienced during the weekend, and how they felt better prepared to be faithful servers of the Lord, devoted deliverers of the Good News.