Today we have signed our Maryknoll covenants and committed our personal energies and prayer life to the mission of Jesus as envisioned by the Maryknoll community. We participated in our completion retreat and will be officially recognized as the Northeast Florida Maryknoll Affiliates.
The topic of our retreat was Cultivating a Mission Spirit and was led by one of our members, John Moritz. Using a mission video and discussion questions, we tried to discover what we have learned about ourselves over the past 18 months of preparation, and how we can relate to and advance the Maryknoll mission. I would say that we were more forthcoming and able to share with each other our thoughts and feelings about becoming active Maryknoll affiliates than we had been when we began our journey together.
After our lunch we regrouped and Father John Gillespie, pastor of San Sebastian parish in St. Augustine (and host parish for this retreat), joined us to share his encouragement and perspectives on cultivating a mission spirit. Clearly and creatively, he spoke of four guideposts for our formation. These were spirituality, community, action, and global concerns. These, when in practice in common with our affiliate group and the wider world, are often difficult for us as Americans who are trained up with the attitude of rugged individualism---for ourselves and for others.
But the Lord’s Prayer could be our perfect guide. We pray “Our Father”--- not “my Father.” We pray for “our daily bread.” And we pray for forgiveness of “our trespasses.” Father Gillespie sees the primary requirement leading to successful blending into community is imagination---seeing the world and its people differently and through the eyes of the poor and the needy. He recommended the gospels of Mark and Luke because they speak of discipleship, which leads to community, and the Acts of the Apostles, which speak to community action. Finally, he recommended the book of Revelation because it speaks to our imaginations. To say any more about Father Gillespie’s talk is not possible for me. It was very moving and will be fruitful for all of us.
In true Maryknoll fashion, an invitation was extended to local parishes to join us in our retreat. Several non-Maryknoll participants attended and their participation enhanced our program. The day was a great success and the Northeast Florida Maryknoll Affiliates are happy to become part of the Maryknoll mission spirit.