WEST HAVEN — In preparation for Easter, St. Mary Parish’s Militia Immaculata Villages are sponsoring a two-day Marian Lenten retreat titled “The MI Journey: Evangelizing in Communion” Feb. 16-17.
The Militia of the Immaculata Villages was founded by St. Maximilian Kolbe, a Polish Conventual Franciscan friar with a deep devotion to the Immaculate Virgin Mary. Known as the Apostle of Consecration to Mary, St. Maximilian founded the MI to work for the conversion of sinners through the intercession of Mary. He was martyred in Auschwitz, a Nazi death camp, and was canonized by Pope John Paul II on Oct. 10, 1982.
At St. Mary Parish, the four Immaculata Villages practice the pillars of St. Maximilian Kolbe’s teachings: Eucharistic, Marian, Kolbian and Apostolic.
“Through total consecration to the Immaculata (Mary), we seek a closer relationship with Jesus Christ,” said Donna Masek, an Immaculata Villages volunteer. “As we invite her more deeply into our spiritual lives, she will ultimately deepen our relationship to Christ.”
The theme of the retreat is the 2018 worldwide MI theme: “The MI Journey: Evangelizing in Communion.”
Throughout both days, retreat participants are invited to avail themselves of the parish’s prayer services.
Fr. Gustavo Vidal, pastor, asked that the retreat take place at the beginning of the Lenten season so that participants could meditate on the things they learned there during their Lenten journey, Masek said.
“It’s a good way to start our Lenten experience, to help us discover areas we can work on and repent of,” she said.
The retreat will have several contemplative periods. The silent aspect is meant to encourage participants to leave the busyness of their daily lives and to take time to “sit quietly with our Lord and have him speak to them and draw closer to him,” Masek said.
“We encourage people to come to this unique retreat and take this opportunity to contemplate on their own natures and their relationships with the Virgin Mary and Jesus Christ,” she said.
Guest speaker Fr. Alan Benander, O. Praem., from St. Michael’s Norbertine Abbey in the Diocese of Orange, Calif., will share his thoughts on Lent, the veneration of the Virgin Mary and on becoming closer to God with retreat participants the second day.
“Lent is a great time for spiritual renewal,” Fr. Benander said. “The best way to do that is in union with Our Lady, who is such an important figure in Catholic spirituality. This retreat will be a great opportunity for participants to deepen their relationship with God or to restart it, if necessary.”
Fr. Bendander advised those who are thinking of attending the retreat to prepare for it by praying the rosary, going to Mass and receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation as often as they can., and reading the Scriptures.
“Do the little things to prepare now and to draw close to Our Lady,” he said. “The retreat will be a good opportunity to draw closer to our Lord through Our Lady.”
The schedule on Friday is for a day of prayer, beginning with an 8 a.m. Mass followed by Eucharistic adoration. The 8 p.m. Mass will be followed by Stations of the Cross, then a light Lenten meal. On Saturday, the retreat will begin with a Continental breakfast at 8 a.m., and end with Mass and the Rite of Total Consecration to the Immaculata. The Sacrament of Reconciliation will be available for those who wish to receive it.
WHAT: Marian Lenten retreat
WHEN: Friday and Saturday, Feb. 16 - 17
WHERE: St. Mary Catholic Church, 4050 South 3900 West, West Haven
To register, visit www.stmarysutah.org or call 801-898-3821. Pre-registration requested, but registration also will be available on Saturday at the door. $10 donation to cover meals and materials.