SALT LAKE CITY — For Catholics everywhere, Lent is a 40-day time of prayer, penance and sacrifice to prepare for the coming of Easter. In the Diocese of Salt Lake City, this year the Lenten theme chosen by Bishop Oscar A. Solis is “Be Reconciled To Christ.”
Local Catholics can enhance their Lenten journey by attending the Diocesan Lenten Retreat on Saturday, March 21 at St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church. Making a retreat part of the preparation for Easter is a traditional practice in the Church but it can be especially meaningful to 21st-century Catholics, said Susan Northway, director of the diocesan Office of Faith Formation.
Despite the constant drum of social media and the interconnectedness touted by the technological world, people have never been lonelier and more in need of spiritual light, she said. “They are masking the opportunities to seek the spiritual by the continual busyness and continual media.”
Attending the Diocesan Lenten Retreat can be like “encountering an oasis in the spiritual desert of the 21st century,” Northway said.
The retreat will include English and Spanish sessions that will run concurrently in adjacent buildings. The sessions will be led by Congar Institute retreat masters Father Roger Keeler, JCD (English) and Father Sergio Serrano, O.P. (Spanish).
Fr. Keeler is an assistant professor of canon law at the Oblate School of Theology and former executive director of the Canon Law Society of America. Fr. Serrano is a member of the Dominican Province of San Martín de Porres. Both are “powerful preachers and men of great faith who have given their life for this,” Northway said.
In his session, Fr. Keeler will give a series of three lectures followed by small-group reflection. Fr. Keeler said he hopes participants in the retreat may have “a renewed personal encounter with Christ, with his forgiveness and mercy.”
“Lent is an important time of renewal; it’s always a time to get in touch with our ashes,” he said. “We get in touch with our humanity; we get in touch with our frailty.”
Those who do not usually attend retreats should not be afraid to join with him and other faithful that day, Fr. Keeler said.
“A retreat like this is not intended for an elite or for a small, small portion of the people of God or for those who think they have a particular spirituality or are living a state of grace,” he said. “This is an opportunity for us to encounter Christ, and an opportunity to meet Christ becomes God’s gift to us, for everyone.”
During the retreat, Bishop Solis will celebrate a bilingual Mass with participants of both the English and Spanish retreat sessions.