On May 28th, 35 men gathered in Shingletown for what was called "A Work'n Man's Retreat." There were chain saws, tractors, shovels, and almost every kind of tool that you could imagine.
The goal was to transform the forest into a spiritual place that could be used for retreats, gatherings, and a sanctuary for private meditation.
The distinct projects were identified:
1. Clearing and thinning of the forest.
2. Beautification and improvement of the amphitheater, including the erecting of a two-story high cross.
3. Completing the outdoor Stations of the Cross with establishing a comfortable walking trail, beautification of each station, and placing numbered posts at each site.
A core group of men with knowledgeable team leaders arrived at 7:00 am and began work. As more and more men arrived they chose a project to join. It wasn't long and the overgrown forest began to take shape.
After five hours of work the lunch bell was rung and the men gathered for a break. As the men nourished their bodies the theme of the retreat was introduced: "Living as Authentic Catholic Men in the World Today." Deacon Pat Kearns (Founder of Catholic Men of the Cross "In-Motion" Retreats) explained the importance of relationships in men's lives, and what type of relationships are needed for our unique journeys. Then the men, now fed, and given some spiritual food to ponder as well, quickly returned to their projects.
Many of the men who attended the retreat did not previously know each other, but there was a bond forming as they worked side by side established friendships.
At 6:00 pm there was no need to ring the dinner bell since God took care of that by delivering an abundance of snow. Escaping the flurry of white powder, the men retreated to the Mary Queen of Peace church that is adjacent to the retreat property and partook in a dinner feast worthy of kings.
After dinner, the weather improved and the men returned to the forest for campfire fellowship. Enjoying a few beers, stories were exchanged, jokes and laughter emerged, and the men reflected on the day's experience.
Some of the men remained on the property and camped, while others chose to drive home.
Morning came with beautiful clear skies and the final touches of the projects were completed. The men then prepared for the arrival of the Shingletown Catholic community for the planned 11:00 am outdoor Mass and picnic.
Families began to arrive and quickly gathered in the amphitheater. The retreat bell was rung and Father Jonathan Molina (Pastor of Our Lady of Mercy Parish, and Mary Queen of Peace churches) along with Deacon Pat began Mass. The beauty of God's creation surrounded the community with the chirping of birds, the mild breezes whispering through the trees, and as Father shared his homily the sun's rays were as a spotlight beaming upon him and illuminated his being. It was glorious.
After Mass the community enjoyed a traditional Bar-B-Q with hamburgers and hot dogs, and a variety of fixings. Then the forest was filled with the visitors enjoying the fruits of the men's retreat. They were walking the Stations of the Cross and enjoying the newly enhanced trails.
"This is just the beginning for the retreat property" declared Deacon Pat, further stating "This is a holy place that will in time, be a place of healing, rest, and inspiration for thousands."
To watch a short film of the retreat please visit: http://www.deaconpat.net/
For more information about the Corpus Christi Retreat Center please contact Our Lady of Mercy Parish at 530-222-3424.