Holy Moments Spiritual Retreat was inspirational

To the editor:

On April 5 and 6, St. Ann Parish hosted a Holy Moments Spiritual Retreat at Copeland Oaks in Sebring. There seemed a need to renew our connection to God, revitalize our relationships to each other and restore our passion for the work God has called us to do. The Holy Moments theme was taken from the book “The Biggest Lie in the History of Christianity” by Matthew Kelly. This book was given to all the parishioners from St. Ann’s Church as a Christmas present. Completely and absolutely moved, nudged and pushed by the Holy Spirit, we planned our retreat. The original plan was that we’d probably get eight to 10 people and we’d have it in the church basement. Knowing that it’s always more special when you can go somewhere else, we decided on Copeland Oaks, the Bennet Hall. We had a date and a hall, nothing was going to stop us. Before we knew it, we had four speakers and 36 reservations. We were beyond thrilled, but it also goes to show that these retreats are wanted and needed.

Father Thomas Dyer, pastor of St. Ann Parish, who is celebrating his 50th anniversary of priesthood, spoke Friday night. He got us excited about Holy Moments, doing the right thing, helping others, being kind, and that holiness is possible for each and everyone of us. We all couldn’t wait to come back on Saturday morning.

On Saturday we listened to Fritz and Lori Schlueter, who are members of St. Paul’s Parish in Salem. Fritz is the principal of Damascus Elementary School and Lori is a middle school computer teacher. They both teach the eighth-grade Confirmation class at St. Paul’s Church. They use a curriculum that is Holy Moments based. Fritz and Lori took turns speaking about holy moments in their family of five, now grown adult children. We laughed and savored great, moving testimonial Holy Moments stories in their lives.

Our next speaker was Tony Agnesi. We enjoyed stories of life, love, gratitude and forgiveness, based on his best-selling books, “A Storyteller’s Guide to a Grace Filled Life” and “A Storyteller’s Guide to Joyful Service –Turning Your Misery into Ministry.” His warmth, compassion and energy inspired us. Tony is an inspirational speaker, hall of fame broadcaster and producer of a radio program on Catholic Radio titled “The Storytellers.” He was recently named among the top 500 Christian Authorities in the United States by the Agilience Authority Index. His blog, “Finding God’s Grace in Everyday Life,” was named one of the top 100 Catholic blogs worldwide. Afterwards, he signed books with the proceeds going to a number of charities that he and his wife, Diane, are passionate about.

In the afternoon, we actually had Matthew Kelly speak to us. .. well, sort of. Dynamic Catholic has a daily email titled “Best Lent Ever.” This year it was also based on Holy Moments and Matthew Kelly gave two- to three-minute visual talks each day during lent. We took five or six that we enjoyed most and played them to the audience. We then discussed the questions at the end of each segment. A survey was filled out at the end, no number ratings, we wanted answers. The first question was, “What made you decide to come?” We received answers such s “Looking for reconnection with God,” “Feeling a void in my life,” At a crossroads in life,” “Needed a jump start, recharged” and “In need of spiritual growth.” In this day and age where we keep hearing how we are losing parishioners, we need to step it up and have a spiritual retreat. We, at St. Ann’s, are a small church. If we can do it, anyone can. If the Holy Spirit gives you a nudge in the direction of a spiritual retreat, don’t ignore it.

Jane Lippiatt,

St. Ann Parish,