The first part of June each year the priests of the Diocese of Orange go on retreat. Parishes that usually have daily Masses are forced to have communion services or find visiting priests to celebrate the Masses. Parishioners may wonder what their priests are doing. Here’s the answer: For many years we have been going to the La Quinta resort in the desert. Yeah, it’s a pretty swanky place that we can only afford because it is the beginning of their “low” season. (Low? The higher the temperature, the lower the cost. This week, the prediction is a high of 116!) The place has been there since 1926, known as a desert hideaway for movie stars and the like. The trees are large and the grounds are beautifully kept, even in this drought. The expanse is so large that almost all of us fit into just one of the various campuses that surround the main buildings. Each priest has his own room and most rooms have a patio or garden so you can sit outside, read, pray or just enjoy the view. As a presbyterate we have grown over the years and no retreat house is large enough to accommodate all of us at once, and from the beginning of our life as a diocese we have always preferred to make our retreats together. We still like each other.Our retreats are made up of one half prayer and one half celebration.We listen to talks given by an invited speaker (sometimes more than one.)
Over the years some speakers have been fantastic and some have been not so fantastic. We have come not to depend on the speaker to make the retreat productive. Most of us bring along our Bibles, spiritual reading or the occasional novel so that we can make up for what may be sometimes lacking in the presentations.
We also talk to one another, both informally and together during the day, explaining to each other the way we answer a few questions about our own way of life.
The most remarkable part of the Masses and liturgies is the music. We love to sing and most of us are pretty good at it. We sing most of the psalms and the Mass parts as well as the usual hymns. There is a good combination: some ancient chants and some contemporary songs. Singing may be in English, Spanish or Vietnamese. (I think once we had a hymn in Korean but, not knowing Korean or Vietnamese, I can’t quite be sure.) Each retreat we have a few new pieces to learn. We take our time.
It is funny: most of us can’t wait to get away from the parish at the start of the week but all of us are quite ready to return to our parishes when the retreat ends on Friday morning. Our retreat restores our spirits.
The photo in this story was taken at St. Francis of Assisi Church on Washington St. in La Quinta, CA. This is a beautiful church patterned after the Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi, Italy. It sits high on a hill with desert mountains directly in back of the church. The interior walls are covered with frescoes from scenes in the life of St. Francis. It is well worth a visit.
Sounds beautiful. Thanks.
Yes, I really like this Church. Not only is it beautiful physically, but it’s where I went to some of my first AA meetings long ago. That picture brings back a lot of great memories.
I have been to this church many times during visits to the California desert. It is really a most beautiful and tastefully decorated church, in authentic period decor. I encourage everyone to visit it if they are able.
It would be nice if all our Priests could get three or four retreats each year. They are getting older, and I’m sure they tire easily. They experience the underbelly of our people every day and they see the goodness of our people every day. The emotional strain surely takes its toll. Think of the Priest who’s day includes saying Mass at 7 am, conducting a Baptism at the 9:30 Mass, visiting the dying in the hospital, visiting a sick person at home, overseeing CYO basketball later in the evening in between sessions with the RCIA folks, and then getting ready for the next day. Too much. They need a retreat.
Many have been “retreating” for years from solidly upholding “all” Church Teaching.
The extremely busy schedule that B.O. just described is similar, (but with different duties, demands, pressing deadlines and financial responsibilities,) for parents. This also includes giving birth, around the clock care for many children plus 2:00am feedings. The majority of mothers and fathers do NOT get to go on several retreats. Few vocations, low Mass attendance, Catholics leaving for Calvary and Saddleback in droves, Catholics who can’t send their children to Catholic schools because of the heterodoxy that is often taught…. AND B.O.’s best solution is MORE time enjoying the scenery in “Palm Springs” ? St. John Vianney, pray for…
Yes .. but most parents (especially with 2:00AM feeding time children) arn’t 60 or over. Most priests are.
“Yes .. but most parents (especially with 2:00AM feeding time children) arn’t 60 or over. Most priests are.” = LAME RATIONALIZING! Most parents don’t run off their very own family members for telling the TRUTH about their inheritance or heritage. Good candidates for the priesthood and good priests were run off or treated like pariah. The priest shortage was self induced. And now you are playing a violin for those who are too tired? Anonymous would have also coddled little Nero for fiddling while Rome burned.
For many years in our diocese, candidates for the seminary were told to hide their fidelity to Church teaching. Good bye good men. IOW a deliberate and manufactured priest shortage. Now even you are still avoiding the real reason why 60 year old priests are spread out so thin and tired. A few years back when Bishop Brown was assigned to our diocese, there was a meeting of certain priests and they were told that big changes were a coming and if you could not go along with the program to speak up now or ask to be transferred. True story. No wonder everyone still likes each other. Eliminate solid teaching…keep your mouth shut and go with the Catholic- lite program or be removed. Birds of a feather always happily flock…
Catherine, GOODBY, GOOD MEN is a serious book about how the seminaries were run back in the 70s. By many accounts the seminaries have been fumigated and are now producing good Priests who are somewhat more orthodox. But, many good Priests came out of those seminaries as well. In 1965 there were 58K priests in this country, today there are 38K. We have the same number of parishes as in 1965, but 3.5K don’t have a Priest. In ’65 there were 46.3 mm Catholics. today, 76.7mm of whom 15.3mm are from other nations.
No one is saying that there are not priests who are faithful. There IS the true reality that many lavender mafia clergy in authority are privately rejoicing at the court’s ruling and in certain cases this is why faithful catechesis was not taught or upheld to begin with. This is also why Canon 915 is ignored. JLS once asked you if you were on the payroll for a good reason. You’re excuse making needs fumigating. You’re brand of lame excuses are a disgraceful display of why we are in this diabolically disoriented mess.
When I’m in the desert I frequently attend St. Francis of Assisi. It could well be on the “Churches worth driving to.”