Fr Edson Paguntalan mhm
Our annual retreat as Mill Hill group in Sindh, Pakistan has been one of the most important sources of our personal and spiritual growth. When new trials seem to have overtaken us and frustrations due to changing situations burns us out, this time of the year is the perfect time to renew our strength and be filled of the joy that Christ can only give. Recognizing our own emptiness and thirst, we as disciples of Christ generously responded once again to His invitation to “come and see” so that our joy may be complete and that we can continue our joyful witnessing towards all.
Engaged in different apostolates amongst the tribal people and administrative duties in mission stations, the Mill Hill group in Sindh, Pakistan took a few days off to nourish our body and soul. The stillness of our spiritual journey began on the Feast day of St. Francis of Assissi, a man of prayer and peace, and by coincidence our annual retreat this year was held at the Franciscan House in Karachi. The tranquillity and peace of the place helped us to launch out into the depth of our prayer and meditation. We were blest by the beautiful surroundings full of trees and tweeting birds. The smell in the air was the smell of plants growing.
Fr. Joe, a Columban missionary who has been for many years working in Pakistan accompanying different groups on their retreats and guiding individuals on their spiritual journeys also accompanied us this year. In his introduction, he reminded us of the plan of God for each and every one of us referring to the text of Jeremiah that says,
“For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope. Then when you call upon me and come and pray to me, I will hear you.” (Jer 29:11-12).
Acknowledging that we had so many concerns in our minds as we commence the retreat, Fr. Joe invited us to “cast all our anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” (1 Pet 5:7) He then guided us individually for six days according to our spiritual needs and individual disposition.
My personal experience of renewal in the joy of Christ during our annual retreat is obviously the experience of the rest of my Mill Hill brothers. We are filled with the joy of Christ and reassured once more that the plan of God is greater than our own plans and it is His joy to fulfill it in our lives and in our missionary work. With renewed joy, we ended our retreat refreshed and strengthened to go back to our different mission stations to do likewise; to share the Joy of the Gospel and to bear good fruits.
Edson Paguntalan mhm