Emmaus leaders gather

The advisory council of Emmaus Retreats in the Diocese of Venice recently organized a daylong meeting for more than 100 Parish retreat leaders.

The meeting was Feb. 19, 2022, at Our Lady Queen of Heaven Parish in LaBelle, and the focus was on finding ways to reenergize the Emmaus Retreats within the Diocese of Venice in the wake of the global pandemic. Emmaus Retreats are offered in numerous Parishes and available in both English and Spanish.

The advisory council includes three spiritual directors – Father Jiobani Batista, Father Luis Pacheco, and Father Luis Albarracin – as well as 10 lay faithful. Meeting topics also included refresher presentations on “The vision and mission of Emmaus,” “What does Emmaus mean?” as well as updates on Diocesan regulations and guidelines. It has been more than two years since Emmaus retreat leadership met.

“We can truly say the day was filled with the love of God and the Holy Spirit,” said Diana De La Fuente, Diocesan Coordinator for Emmaus Retreats. “We shared discussions of how we can bring our groups back to the way we were prior to the pandemic. We have noticed a great reduction in participation in our groups and we all want to regain what we had before.”

As disciples of Jesus, the Emmaus Retreat provides an opportunity for lay faithful to bring the Word of God to others, so they too might recognize Jesus, experience burning in their hearts, and invite Jesus to stay with them and with their families (Lk 24: 32). Lay faithful present their personal experiences and offer a new way of life, an open invitation for participants to seek God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit at all times in their life.

“As we are now able to invite parishioners once again to experience for themselves this retreat, we are faithful that with the guidance of the Holy Spirit we will be able to foster Evangelization and faithful involvement in the life of the church in a very special and unique manner,” De La Fuente said.

The basis of the Emmaus Retreat is taken from Luke 24:13-35. This is an account of the profound encounter of Jesus with the two disciples on the road of Emmaus. In a similar way, retreatants are invited to enter into the same journey with its summit in the breaking of the bread. This experience offers participants the tools they need to return to their daily lives, with their hearts burning within them as they walk with the Risen Lord.

“With the help from our Lord, Jesus Christ, we are confident that we will be able to serve the Church as enthusiastically as this movement was prior to the pandemic,” De La Fuente said.

To learn more about Emmaus Retreats, please email emmaus@dioceseofvenice.org.