By Amanda Murthy
The focus of Father, Son and Holy Spirit in “Finding God in everything, and everything in God”, was the theme at a recent retreat organised by and for the Baldivis Parish community, held over four weekends from 29 April to 26 May.
The Retreat in Daily Life, themed “Inner Peace in Divine Love”, originally written by Sydney priest Father Michael Hansen, was attended by 28 participants at the St Theresa of Calcutta Church grounds.
Visiting Jesuit priest from Kerala, India, Fr Rajesh Punchathalackal, spent a month in Perth to promote the nature and spirituality program.
Fr Rajesh said he felt the need to encourage people of faith to go back to the genuineness of themselves and to our creator, to make time for Him amidst their busy lives.
Fr Rajesh said “the idea of being able to look at nature and see God in it” had been translated into another program he started in Kerala – targeted to youths aged 10 to 16 – called the Sahajeevanam Picnic Program.
The youth program he explains, encourages participants to leave their gadgets behind as they explore God’s creation, giving thanks and asking Him to continue to guide them in their journey as they make a positive difference in the world.
“For The Retreat in Daily Life, however, it is catered to families and incorporates eco-spirituality, similarly focusing on the gift of God in creation and how blessed we are to be in kinship with nature as a primary relationship in our lives,” he said.
“Up to date, the Jesuits and Christian Life Community Australia (CLCA) have worked together and conducted over eight other Retreats in Daily Life in Australia, with the same format offered throughout the country, mainly in rural and remote areas for the past 25 years.
“Some of the topics explored in the various prayer exercises that involved sacred listening, spiritual conversation, meditative reflections and discernment included how to be opened to the grace of God, to see God’s face in each other, to be humble, to freely give what you have freely received,” Fr Rajesh added.
Retreat speaker and participant Chris Gardner, said the retreat helped him gain a deeper awareness of God, learn new ways of praying and give him the opportunity to experience the power of the Holy Spirit.
“There were many who liked the structure of the retreat that applied the prayers from the exercises to their own lives – this helped them focus on the reality of God in their lives and God in all things,” he cited.
“Inspired by Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’, some of the exercises focussed on the gift of God in creation and how blessed we are to be in kinship with nature as a primary relationship in our lives.
“This was the theme of the final outdoor Mass we had in the Children’s Forest in Baldivis,” he added.
Baldivis Parish Priest Fr Geoff Aldous said he was pleased with the turnout of the retreat, which he felt helped participants pray more deeply, both contemplatively and imaginatively.
“The format of this retreat was a little different with participants given daily prayers to pray in the comfort of their home, in their own time, then we came together to do the weekly group meetings,” he concluded.