Attack of the Retreats

As I write this, we’re sitting on Wexford Bus en route to Dublin. Tonight marks another celebration with the ACE community at O’Connell House, something we’ve come to look forward to every month with great anticipation, as we’ve made good friends in that community. This is really the capstone to what has been a banner week for Teach Bhríde.

We spent today and Wednesday at another place that’s become very important to the Teach Bhríde community: the Ballyvaloo Retreat Centre. We had the pleasure of leading two groups from the Kilmore primary school through their pre-Confirmation retreats. The kids were absolutely fantastic, eager to participate, and full of insights on the messages we presented throughout the day. Kilmore is another Irish primary school that has incorporated the Confirmation prep program You Shall Be My Witnesses , and the additional catechesis the kids had received really showed forth in the small group discussions during the retreats—lots of insights that took me by surprise considering the ages of the students sharing them. I have to say, though, that as amazing as the kids were, my housemates were even more so. Patrick was at the helm for the majority of the day, winning the kids over with his humor and stellar icebreaker games (Braveheart-style Ultimate Rock, Paper, Scissors was a big hit). Jessica narrated an entertaining drama in which the students were able to play small roles as members of a family and various barnyard animals. Clarisa helped the groups enter into a state of prayerful reflection by leading a guided meditation on the gifts of the Holy Spirit. All in all, I am one lucky House Director who is grateful to have the opportunity to work with such cool, fun, spirited, and spiritual people. I can’t wait for the next retreat!

This weekend brings with it another change: Jessica will take the lead at tomorrow’s Vigil Mass, stepping up as conductor. She led an incredibly efficient rehearsal on Wednesday night, and will no doubt guide our little choir through tomorrow’s Mass with her characteristic grace-filled ease. It’s all part of the process of transitioning into next year.

Next week we’ll be carrying on with more of the same: Confirmation choir practices, Class Mass preparation, and preparing for more visitors from Our Lady’s University, who will arrive next weekend for a few days of on-site discernment of the Teach Bhríde community. In addition, we’ve been asked to participate in two radio programs with the Christian Media Trust of Southeast Radio, sharing our experiences of celebrating Lent in America, and especially at Notre Dame. We’ll be sharing music, and talking about what Lent means to us personally. It’s hard to believe Ash Wednesday is coming up so quickly and that we hit the six-month mark this week; time flies when the calendar is so full! Keep us in prayer this week, and we’ll do the same for you—sing your Alleluias loud this weekend, and have a blessed Ash Wednesday.