The following comes from a June 22 Orange County Catholicarticle by Monsignor Mike Heher:
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.