Dominican priests in the Archdiocese of Yangon from St. Gemma's Parish in the "Shwe Pyi Thar" quarter facilitated the three-day-long retreat during Holy Week for parishioners.
The Covid-19 pandemic affected people adversely along with the current political situation in Myanmar, which is under a military emergency since February 2021, said Dominican Father Paul Aung Myint Win, the parish priest.
“People are struggling in their daily lives and many feel downhearted or much stressed. During this time, they need more spiritual inputs or nourishments to ease the pains. Therefore, we tried to arrange this retreat amidst the difficulties,” he said.
The priest also explained why he gave the three-day retreat as a "Spiritual Restaurant".
According to him, a ‘spiritual restaurant’ means to restore and fill the spiritual needs of a person. Besides, it was to have a peaceful mind and physical strength. With this intention, he invited and encouraged the parishioners to join the special event.
One has to understand that the Covid-19 pandemic forced most churches to close for almost two years and Catholics just have to follow online Masses as an alternative.
As things have improved a bit now, parishioners need to strengthen their lives and grow in faith, the priest explained.
The retreat was held from April 13 to 15, 2022 from 7.00 in the morning to 5.00 in the afternoon.
“We hoped to help Catholics pastorally to ease their suffering and they learn to face challenges with hope, faith, and courage,” said Father Myint Win.
The parishioners said they benefited a lot from the retreat.
Gloria See Zar, a parishioner, shared her experience on the said retreat.
"By joining this retreat, I come to know more about the liturgical traditions in the Church. I had more time to check myself regarding my faith. This happened during Holy Week, so it was valuable time for me to rethink and recall my life and faith.”
She also came to know more about the Word of God and give more time to Him and practice the faith as a Christian.
“I was glad to meet with others and enjoy asking and sharing during the three days. I am sure that it was a great help for my spiritual life,” Zar said.
Shelly Mar, another participant, said, “In this retreat, I knew more about myself. The time spent in silence was invaluable.
“I am grateful that I could receive the sacraments, especially the confession. I forgot God many times while struggling with life challenges. However, after the retreat, I decided that I will surely give more time to God,” she said.
The retreat was held on Holy Wednesday, Holy Thursday, and Holy Friday. It was accompanied by Dominican Priests Alphonso BoBo, Joseph Pakhu, and the parish priest Myint Win.
Every year, during this time of the year, the water festival is organized in most of the parishes in different dioceses along with youth camps, training, or retreats.
However, the pandemic disturbed and the usual events were canceled. Therefore, this year, the local parishes arrange the events at the parish level to strengthen the spirituality of the parishioners.
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