Brasil – Spiritual Exercises in the midst of a pandemic

17 December 2020

(ANS – Colônia) – To make the annual Spiritual Exercises in the midst of a pandemic. That was the challenge. The subject was discussed at a meeting of the Rectors of communities in a virtual meeting. We settled on a hybrid. Thus, a small group would be in the Conference Home of Jaboatão; the others, in their own houses, would follow the common part online and make the best they could in their own community.

From 23 to 27 November, a group of 7 Salesians were in Cologne (Jaboatão) and 30 other confreres took part in their own communities. A Salesian sister also joined the group in the Conference Home. The common moments, transmitted through the Youtube Channel (Northeast Salesians) were the two talks (9:30 and 14:30) and the good night (21 hours); in the home community, the Eucharistic celebration (in the morning) and the special celebration of each day (in the evening).

The preacher, Fr. Francisco Alves de Lima (Fr. Chicão) was in Santa Izabel do Rio Negro, a Salesian mission in the heart of the Amazon forest. From there he sent the written material and the videos with the talks. In the written material were the texts for deeper reflection, which went out by email to the confreres. On whatsapp, the confreres received the special celebrations of each day and the links to the talks and the good nights.

The opening of the retreat was transmitted live, with a moment of prayer, communications and the introductory word of Fr. Provincial. The first talk did not arrive on time. The first day was one of disagreement and problems with the transmission. The following days the talks and the good night flowed regularly.

In Jaboatão, we found a Retreat House, which had been renovated well, presenting itself clean, organized, and functional.

In the evaluation, through an online form, 30% of the confreres responded about their personal experience, content and modality of the retreat. Here are some transcribed testimonies of the evaluation.

Personal experience of the retreat:

"Without any doubt, although he was not visible, the Holy Spirit acted! Better than many others...".

"It was the first retreat I made in this format. I tried to live well all the moments as if it were a retreat in person. Moments of prayer, visit to the Blessed Sacrament, Eucharist, prayers...".

Content of the Retreat:

"I really liked the theme and the preaching. They were very clear and often even strong. It provoked us a lot".

"It was the appropriate time for a review and nurturing of one's own vocation".

Special modality of this Retreat:

"I believe it was very opportune, in this time of pandemic, to be able to follow this method. There were limitations, but we made the retreat. This was important for me. My personal experience was very fruitful. I would like to thank you".

"Interesting, even if there are some drawbacks. The reading of the text on the computer screen was not too tedious, keeping the ability to hold my attention. It could be used on other occasions, for confreres of a certain age".

At the final good night, Fr. Provincial in Brasilia, taking part in the Cisbrasil meeting, thanked the preacher, praising the quality of his contribution and drawing lessons from the hybrid form of the Retreat. At the end, he opened a window of hope: he announced that the provincials agreed that in 2022 the novitiate in Curitiba would be transferred to Jaboatão.

Fr. João Carlos Ribeiro, SDB


ANS - “Agenzia iNfo Salesiana” is a on-line almost daily publication, the communication agency of the Salesian Congregation enrolled in the Press Register of the Tibunal of Rome as n 153/2007.

This site also uses third-party cookies to improve user experience and for statistical purposes. By scrolling through this page or by clicking on any of its elements, you consent to the use of cookies. To learn more or to opt out, click "Further Information".