SALT LAKE CITY — The annual Diocesan Advent Retreat to help Utah Catholics prepare for the season will be held Saturday, Dec. 7 at St. John the Baptist Parish in Draper. As in past years, there will be both an English and a Spanish session.
Bishop Oscar A. Solis is encouraging everyone who can to attend the retreat.
“Advent Season is a call to prepare the way of the Lord in our life and in the world in the midst of the ‘busyness’ of this time of the year – shopping, parties, cooking and many other plans,” he said. “Our upcoming Diocesan Advent Retreat offers a great occasion to put our mind and heart in the right place: to reflect and to pray in order to help us grow in faith, hope and love. It is a sacred space and moment to ready our heart in conscious and patient preparation to encounter and experience the loving presence of Christ this Advent.”
Father Joshua Santos, chaplain of St. Jerome Newman Center in Logan will conduct the English session. Fr. Javier Virgen, pastor of St. Joseph the Worker Parish, will present the retreat in Spanish. Both will focus on the Virgin Mary as a model for Catholics to follow as they seek to follow Christ.
Fr. Santos will be speaking on “Following Mary’s Footsteps in Advent.”
“As the first follower of Jesus, even before she conceived him in the womb, Mary had already conceived him in her heart in her obedience to God,” Fr. Santos said. “That is something we should reflect on during Advent during quiet moments of meditation.”
In his presentation, Fr. Santos will first examine Mary as she is written about in the Scriptures, from the Old Testament to the New Testament. He will then focus his remarks on Mary and the faithful and will “dig deep into Mary’s virtues as we prepare ourselves for Advent,” he said.
A Marian theme was chosen for the retreat because the day after the retreat, Dec. 8, is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception and Our Lady has such an important role in Advent, Director of the Office of Liturgy Ruth Dillon said.
“As Advent approaches we anticipate, as did Mary, new birth and new beginnings,” she said. “Saint John Paul II wrote in 2002, ‘Among all creatures, no one knows Christ better than Mary; no one can introduce us to a profound knowledge of his mystery better than his mother.’ The upcoming Diocesan Advent Retreat provides an opportunity to renew our understanding of Jesus through the devotion of his mother, leading us more deeply into the spirit of Advent as we prepare to celebrate the mystery of the Incarnation.”
Following the retreat in English, Bishop Oscar A. Solis will celebrate Mass for both communities. The Spanish session, with Fr. Virgen, will take place in the afternoon.
Attending the retreat is important, Fr. Virgen said, “because we need to prepare ourselves for an encounter with God so we can celebrate Christmas with a profound religious sentiment that takes us to a greater love and commitment to our Lord.”