From the Pastor’s desk— February 5, 2023

So often as Claretians we forget to share the parts of our lives that make us who we are and the people we serve cannot distinguish us from other religious or other priests.  As such, I would like to share what happened this past week as almost 70 of our Claretian priests, brothers, students and one retired bishop gathered for our annual retreat at the Mater Dolorosa Retreat Center in Sierra Madre, California that is at the base of the San Gabriel mountains in the greater Los Angeles area. This retreat is one of the two privileged moments each year our province gathers to renew our fraternal bonds, our charism, our spirits, and our sense of mission.

This year we were blessed to have our General Superior, Fr Matthew Vattamatan CMF, (who is the head of all 3000 Claretians in the world) with us to lead our retreat.  He was present with us for two reasons. First, because he wanted to  help us integrate Our General Chapter last year where our worldwide congregation envisioned how we want to live our missionary vision for the next 6 years and second to help us get ready for our upcoming Provincial Chapter in June (5-9) where we will try to implement the goals of the General Chapter in the specific context of our ministries here in the US/Canada province.

Our retreat, as our last chapter, has been a reflection in our charism of St Anthony Mary Claret for our modern times called “Rooted in Christ, Audacious in Love.”  As the theme has been rolled out, it seems to me a good message for all of us. Beginning with being Rooted in Christ that asks us to look at the things that truly ground us. Do we have good prayer habits? Do we make time for Christ every day? Are we growing in our emotional and intellectual life? These are the roots that without which we cannot grow and even though it would seem a priest would do this, from time to time even we need to check ourselves. 

The second half of the retreat asks us to look at a life Audacious (being bold) in love (and mission).  This phrase did not grab me at first, it felt like spiritual version of corporate-speak, like “moving forward” and “circle back” that get so overused.  But on this retreat I see the call to be willing to take new paths to live a deep life with Christ in the world through community life, common prayer, obedience, chastity, and mission.  If I look at Sacred Heart, I realize how bold (audacious) it has been for us to set up a shelter in our own back yard, that we welcome everyone,  that we bring our two language speaking groups together frequently, that Br. Manolo and I take our faith into the streets of Springfield, Nixa, Ozark, Republic, and even at a food truck on W. Battefield. Rd.  As we get our throats blessed today, may we use our voices to share this Good News.

Fr. Ray Smith, CMF
Parochial administrator

With a heart for Mission,
Fr. Ray