The annual men’s retreat organised by the Better World Movement was held September 22–24 at the Seminary, Mt St Benedict. Participant Lawrence Mc Eachrane submitted a report.
The retreat began on the Friday evening with registration and assignment of rooms. We were fortunate to have enough space for our retreat since we were sharing with the resident seminarians. We participated in the communal Mass and meals which added to making the retreat special.
The first session was led by Deacon Simon Rostant that evening. It dealt with relationships in general, and our relationship with God in particular. This set the stage for the following presentations which dealt with the retreat’s theme Fathers and Sons. This first session emphasised the need to have a right relationship with God before we as fathers could relate to our sons and in a wider context, our daughters.
Deacon Sheldon Narine was the presenter on Saturday morning. After having us spend some quiet moments in silent prayer, Deacon Sheldon went on to outline the different roles in the father-son relationship, using in the first instance, the relationship between God and Abraham. He said Abraham was not always perfect, but God still made him the father of all nations, even after Abraham doubted and Sarah laughed at the idea of having a child in her old age.
Other biblical characters were discussed in small groups. These included Adam, David, Solomon, Noah, Joseph, Jacob and Moses. All of these had some flaw, yet God continued to have a loving relationship with these men who, on different occasions showed their weaknesses.
After lunch, Dr Philip Ayoung-Chee, a urological surgeon, dealt with male health issues. This was a new feature to this annual retreat. The session was most informative and was well received by the men present.
Later that Saturday evening, we were fortunate to have Brendon Mitchell speak to us. Brendon was a seminarian for six years before joining the prison service. As a father of three children, he has found himself mentoring and being a father figure at the Youth Training Centre (YTC), a detention centre for young male offenders.
He shared that many of the YTC residents have turned their lives around simply because of the loving and caring environment they experience at the facility. They have increased their skills and knowledge in different fields, and have become better citizens. All this has been achieved because of the relationships developed between officers and residents.
On Sunday, the last day of the retreat, we were part of the congregation for Mass at the Abbey Church. On returning to the seminary, Mikkel Trestrail, Matthew Hall and Kyle Dardaine of the Companions of the Transfigured Christ Community made their presentation.
Mikkel referred us to Luke 3:21–24. The point we came away with is the real need for a father to affirm his son. Matthew followed and directed us to Luke 4: 1–13. Here we saw that temptations could be grouped under three Ps: power, pleasure and possessions. Matthew noted that at some point in our life’s journey we will be faced by those challenges. Kyle summed up the journey by referring to Luke 4:16–23. And as was emphasised, the temptation is absolutely necessary to prepare us for the temple.
Retreatants were encouraged to continue to read relevant literature to enhance their appreciation and understanding of the matters dealt with in the presentations.
I found the retreat a wonderful experience and even more so, had no regrets on celebrating my birthday during the course of the weekend.
It must be noted that all the presenters came on board at the last minute as the original presenter, Fr Franklyn Cuffy CSsR of Dominica was unable to attend due to Hurricane Maria.
We thank God for His intervention, as He continues to work in mysterious ways. We look forward to our next gathering of men.