All Year is The Most Wonderful Time of Year at Redemptorist Renewal Center
By Charlie Wehrley, C.Ss.R.
The holiday season at the Redemptorist Renewal Center at Picture Rocks in Arizona began with our annual Thanksgiving Day Mass and Brunch. As in the past, all 126 tickets for the brunch quickly sold out. Also in attendance were members of our Redemptorist community – Fathers Paul Coury, Peter Connolly, Greg Wiest and myself – as well as the nine members of our Fall Sabbatical Community.
Our Sabbatical program continues to draw priests and religious from across the world. We offer three sessions each year (two 10-week and one five-week) and every session is filed with attendees from the USA to Europe, Australia/New Zealand, Africa and Asia. Fr. Paul and Fr. Greg provide sessions on Desert Spirituality and Contemplative Prayer, Fr. Peter Connolly speaks on Celtic Spirituality, Fr. Tom Picton presents sessions on Contemplative Listening as a Metaphor for the Spiritual Journey, Fr. Ricardo Elford provides a presentation on Border Ministry, which includes a trip to the USA-Mexican border, and I present sessions on Setting Proper Boundaries and Forgiveness. Fr. Patrick Keyes will direct the renewal center’s first Sabbatical program in Spanish next year.
Teresa Blythe continues to direct our Hesychia School of Spiritual Direction, with the assistance of Fr. Greg. Hesychia is an ecumenical program that draws ministers and lay people from various Christian backgrounds, and provides them with tools for the spiritual guidance of people from all walks of life and faith traditions.
We Redemptorists continue to offer spiritual direction ourselves, and direct various retreats for parishes in the Diocese of Tucson and assist with retreats primarily for priests and bishops from the Western regions of the USA. We also provide guidance to anyone who wants to make a personal retreat.
I continue to offer recovery-based retreats, spiritual direction and missions. This past April I directed a 12- Step retreat for Gamblers Anonymous at the Cenacle Retreat House in Long Island, NY, and already have committed to direct their retreat in 2018. Since my article, “Love Is an Inside Job: Recovering from Addiction” was published in the October 2017 issue of Liguorian, I have also received invitations to give retreats in Scranton, PA and at the Mount St. Joseph Retreat Center in Kentucky.
On the Sunday after Thanksgiving, the feast of Christ the King, we dedicated a new Resurrection Statue which is now part of our Way of the Cross. Designed by Fr. Paul, the statue was funded by a generous member of Our Lady of the Desert Conventual Church.
Our holiday traditions continued into December, with our annual Volunteer Christmas Party. We are very blessed to have many great volunteers who serve in the main office, the bookstore and in the church as sacristans, lectors and Eucharistic ministers. The choir at Our Lady of the Desert also will be offering its traditional Lessons and Carols concert here and at other parishes in Tucson.
As always, we continue to host many outside groups from all walks of life and religious faiths. We greet 2018 with great enthusiasm and continual faith in the blessings that God has planned for the Redemptorist Renewal Center.