Time out for Archdiocesan clergy
Who was Lazarus and why was Martha head of the household and not him?
This was just one of the puzzles put to Archdiocesan clergy during their annual gathering at the St Clement’s Retreat and Conference Centre, Galong in the picturesque rural surrounds of the Harden-Boorowa district.
About 40 priests and deacons attended the get together from 23 to 27 November.
“It was a really good few days,” said Fr Simon Falk.
Fr Simon is the South Belconnen parish priest and the part-time Director of Clergy Life and Ministry responsible for coordinating the welfare and educational needs of the Archdiocese’s clergy.
He noted many clergy had not seen each other for a year due to COVID-19 and the retreat allowed them to take time out from a difficult year to reflect and engage.
This year’s guest presenter to the retreat was Eileen Glass of L’Arche International, the French-based organisation that works with people with intellectual disabilities.
Based now in Canberra and long known locally within the Archdiocese, Eileen delivered two presentations a day, each followed by a period of reflection, discussion, and prayer.
Topics during the week included the baptism of Jesus and the relationship with his father, the Transfiguration experience, and the ‘call’ of Moses in the Old Testament.
But as Fr Simon relates, Eileen’s most intriguing talk was on Jesus’ famous visit to Martha and Mary and the later raising from the dead of their brother, Lazarus.
“There was an interesting quirk in it all, which Eileen pointed out so well,” he said.
“Why was it ‘Martha’s home’ where the visit took place?”
“Why wasn’t Lazarus the householder, when males were traditionally the householder in Jewish culture? What does that say to us about what kind of figure he was? Did he have an illness or a disability?”
“And how does that speak to us in the context of the ministry we have for people we might encounter who have an illness or disability? Where is God’s presence in that?”
The retreat’s last session was an open forum that provided an opportunity for all to reflect on those questions, including on where they were at in their personal lives and on what they had gained from the retreat.
“From the newly ordained to the retired and for some of our wisest men, many told how they had found the Galong experience an enriching and engaging one,” said Fr Simon.
What about the salvation of souls from Satan and his demons. Did that get a look in? Or how about examples of courageous witness to Christ in an ever more secular and aggressive world. Any discussion of that?
Great to see our clergy taking time out for some self care, and it sounds as though Eileen’s contribution was both challenging and affirming. Excellent role modelling for the rest of us to make time for self reflection and renewal!