Most Reverend Jerome E. Listecki
Archbishop of Milwaukee
Recently, I taped a show for Relevant Radio dedicated to retreats. My guests were Fr. Rob Kroll, S.J. and Fr. Andrew Infanger. Both priests are actively involved in developing and forming the spirituality and prayer lives of the individuals they serve. Fr. Kroll, S.J. is at Saint Francis de Sales Seminary and uses his spiritual training with young seminarians studying for the priesthood. Fr. Infanger, a young priest who was ordained in 2018, works with adolescents and young adults as chaplain at the UW-Milwaukee Newman Center. Fr. Kroll has been involved with a multitude of retreats, some directed, others silent and, of course, the Ignatian Exercises that form the basis for the formation of those studying to become Jesuits. Fr. Infanger, an archdiocesan priest, had just finished a retreat for our campus ministers who evangelize on our college campuses. He also had creatively developed a virtual retreat, popularly received by our young people who are now trapped by the coronavirus. This creative use of technology helps support our young people in their spiritual development.
Secular corporations have borrowed the term “retreat” to emphasize a type of getaway to enhance their business environments. They will set apart some time for their staff to enjoy relaxation, reevaluate the use of their time and consider how relationships and business practices can increase productivity. This type of retreat has little or nothing to do with understanding God as the most important component of our lives.
Retreats are an important aspect in the life of the Christian. As Catholics, we attempt to keep invigorating the development of our spiritual lives. We can become complacent; we can believe that our spiritual lives are good enough and our routines can lead us to take for granted our relationships with God. Instead of growing, we can become stagnant. A retreat reminds us of the importance of a relationship with God. We need to separate ourselves, remove the obstacles in our daily lives to open our minds, and listen to what God is demanding from us. God is not just one of the priorities in our life: He is the priority of our life.
I would encourage all of us to make a retreat, which keeps the Divine always before our eyes. We have some wonderful retreat centers within the Archdiocese of Milwaukee (please check the archdiocesan website) and even several other Catholic retreat centers within driving distance. In her wisdom, the Church requires priests to make a retreat (Canon 276 (2) *4). She recognizes that even a priest can be caught up in routine, forgetting that he is an instrument of the Divine in the lives of the faithful.
This week, I will join the bishops of region VII for our annual retreat at Saint Joseph and Mary retreat house at St. Mary of the Lake Seminary in Mundelein, Illinois. This retreat offers a special time to pray for our priests, religious, deacons and lay faithful of our archdioceses and dioceses. With all the difficulties that we have experienced as a Church, it is important to thank God for those who have shared the journey, sacrificed for us in the name of Jesus, and pray for assistance in fulfilling his will.
My brothers and sisters of my LOA community, you will command my prayerful attention for God’s blessings upon you and your commitment to LOVE ONE ANOTHER.
Note: This blog originally appeared as the August 18, 2020, "Love One Another" email sent to Catholics throughout the Archdiocese of Milwaukee by Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki. If you are interested in signing up for these email messages, please click here.