Preacher: Fr. Abhay Shirekar
The Hope & Life Association organized the first Marathi Retreat at the Retreat House Bandra from Tuesday 8th August to Wednesday 9th August 2023.We were given a warm welcome by Fr. Abhay Shirekar our retreat preacher. His simplicity, hospitality & soft-spoken nature made us feel very comfortable.
At the very onset, after giving us the necessary instructions, he explained to us the meaning of the word ‘Retreat’ It means we need to take a step backwards or move backward and examine ourselves. Reflect on two important questions. 1.What do I need to do to improve my way of life?
2. How is my relationship with my family and children?
During the two days of the retreat, Fr. Abhay, through his own personal experiences while counselling, emphasized the need to first care for ourselves and how we need to keep God and Mother Mary at the center of our lives, specially when we are faced with the uncertainties of life e.g. Our relationship with our family and children.
After every talk, we were asked to form groups. There we had to discuss and share instances related to our family and personal life. This was the best part of our retreat, where our sisters spoke so openly and freely without any hesitation. The older sisters though not so literate, shared their knowledge and wisdom. Their sharing of how they tackled their problems and insecurities was truly inspiring. Their sharing helped us gain confidence and insight into how we can deal and overcome our personal problems.
When we listen to the woes of our widowed sisters and how they courageously moved on in life, we realize that we must thank God for the many blessings He has bestowed on us.
In one of the talks, Fr. Abhay expressed the need, that we widow, in addition to taking care of our personal and financial needs, should also make time for recreation. It is important that we distribute our assets legally and amicably among our children.
Another interesting talk was ‘How the social media in modern times, negatively impacted the mental, physical and social development of our children and the youth. Expressing his views on this topic, Fr. Abhay gave us an insight, that as parents & grandparents it is our moral duty to set good standards for our children. If not, then they will begin to face a number of problems in their later years. We have to instill in them the values of our faith, get them to recite the family rosary daily and explain to them the importance of God and prayer in our lives.
The Holy Eucharist was celebrated in a very simple and unique way on both days. The rosary was recited with participation of all the sisters.
The session on Meditation and the techniques and benefits of performing simple exercises, even while attending to our daily chores were well demonstrated by Fr. Abhay. Provision was made to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation and counselling too.
The video presentation depicting the struggles and challenges faced by Mother Mary, right from her youth, to the time of her son’s death on the cross, brought us to realize, that as parents we too are subject to such agony and pain. But never the less as we surrender ourselves to God, our faith and trust in Him will help us overcome our suffering and pain.
This retreat was truly a spiritually enriching and enlightening one for each one of us. We had a comfortable stay and relished the food served to us. During the two days of the retreat, we could relate with one another and we hope that in future we have the privilege of attending many such retreats.
Thanks to the Executive Team of the Hope & Life Association for organizing this retreat as we bid farewell to our 15 dear sisters we returned home refreshed in mind and spirit.
Last but not the least, I would like to extend my heartfelt gratitude to Fr. Abhay for sincerely taking great efforts in preparing the topics for discussion. He ensured we had a comfortable stay while attending to all our needs. He spiritually enriched and empowered our lives through prayer.
God bless you Fr. Abhay and thank you once again for all that you do in the service of God.
Hope & Life Association