“One church: encountering Jesus, equipping disciples, and living mercy.” This is our pastoral vision in the Archdiocese of Omaha for the next several years, announced by Archbishop George Lucas late in 2016 at the conclusion of the Extraordinary Holy Year of Mercy. Following Jesus’ example of making visible God’s merciful love to all people requires that we get to know him in a personal way and grow in our love for him. Like the fishermen whom Jesus called at the Sea of Galilee to follow him and so many others, we have to spend time in his company and learn from him, from his words, his actions and his example, before he can send us out to extend his work in our time, in our surroundings and in our society.
Supporting the New Evangelization in this sense is our heart’s desire at St. Benedict Center. Therefore, we gladly host, for instance, retreats of Alpha, an evangelization tool that introduces people to the person of Christ, and retreats of RCIA groups. Many of our sponsored programs focus on encountering Christ and equipping disciples. And we offer a place of hospitality for all who desire stillness, time by themselves, and an experience of God.
Reviewing the Year 2017, I am happy to report that about 16,000 persons used our facility and that we had close to 11,000 overnights. These are our highest numbers ever. In the Center’s lobby a new video message board gives those arriving information about conference rooms, scheduled programs and more.
In his Spiritual Exercises, St. Ignatius Loyola invites us to use our imagination while praying with the gospels, to picture a particular scene as if we were standing right there: What do I see, hear, smell, etc.? I become one of the actors in the story. A number of our upcoming retreats will invite participants to use this method in their prayer and so to encounter Christ. Examples are the weekend with Fr. Larry Gillick, SJ, on June 21 – 24, titled, Thou Shalt Not Have Strange Gods Before or Above You!, and the Guided/Directed Retreat on July 15 – 21 with Fr. Dennis Hamm, SJ, Fr. Kevin Schneider, SJ, Renee L. O’Brien and Sr. Ann Marie Petrylka, OSM.
In his retreat on June 16 titled, Equipped, Fr. Jeff Lorig, the Archdiocesan Director of Pastoral Services, will spend a whole day reflecting on what the Church means by evangelization and equipping those attending with basic tools to help others have a life transforming encounter with Christ.
St. Jerome (345 – 420) insisted that ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ. On July 13 – 14, Sharon Doran will offer a Catholic Bible Study weekend titled, The Book of Ruth, A Love Story: “Wherever You Go, I Will Go.” It is about Ruth, one of Jesus’ ancestors in his Royal Messianic line. Sharon will make many connections with the New Testament and in this way equip participants for evangelization. – I am looking forward to seeing you again soon
Fr. Thomas Leitner, OSB, Administrator