Retreats Serve, Inspire Diocese’s Religious Education Leaders
By Beatriz Mendoza, Adult Faith Formation, Assistant Coordinator
March 21, 2024

ROCKFORD,  CRYSTAL LAKE—Spring brings out growth, renewal and new life, both in the world and in the spiritual life. Educational and catechetical leaders in the Rockford Diocese found opportunities for renewal at two retreats: Feb. 22 at Bishop Lane Retreat Center in Rockford and March 9 at St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in Crystal Lake.

Rockford retreat teaches “Purposeful Planting”

About 85 people — school principals, youth ministers, religious and education leaders, and catechists — came to Bishop Lane Feb. 22 for a retreat hosted by the Catholic Education Office at the Diocese of Rockford.

The retreat focused on “Purposeful Planting” and featured Msgr. Daniel Deutsch, pastor of St. Patrick Parish in St. Charles, and Nic Frank, Director of Vision and Mission at that parish and a former youth minister.

Throughout the day, the speakers walked the participants through exercises based on passages from the New Testament, provided questions to share with others at their tables and encouraged small group discussions and
personal reflections.

Confession was offered during the afternoon and the day ended with adoration.

Participants appreciated confession and said the retreat “was a great chance to unplug” and “see fellow leaders.”

“We wanted an event where our principals could be taken care of, not a day of in-service,” said Dr. Kim White, Superintendent of Schools at
the diocese.

“It was a wonderful opportunity to minister to the ministers serving in our parishes,” said John Jelinek, diocesan Director of Religious Education and Formation.

Crystal Lake retreat attracts Spanish-language catechists

“It helped me realize where I am failing” and “It was a good reflection on where I am at this moment in my life,” were some of the comments made by the more than 175 people who attended the Spanish-language catechetical leaders and catechists retreat March 9.

Many of the parishes in the diocese that have Spanish-language catechesis were represented. 

The retreat, hosted by the Department of Religious Education at the Diocese of Rockford, was presented by Julieta Jacobo, Coordinator of Hispanic Catechesis and Formation, and Father William Tunarosa, parochial vicar at the host parish.

The retreat’s topic was “Time of Trials, Time for Waiting,” which featured a series of reflections based on the Exodus journey and revolved around our personal journey from slavery to the desert, with the goal of reaching the Promised Land.

The retreat balanced reflections led by Jacobo and music led by Father Tunarosa. Retreatants also shared their reflections and experiences, giving testimonies of their “deserts” or difficulties and how their faith has helped them reach the Promised Land — so to speak. The day ended with adoration.

“After many years of not doing it (the retreat), our Hispanic catechists were longing for a retreat where they could nurture their faith, get in touch with other catechists who are having similar experiences and difficulties, and to grow in their community,” said Jacobo about the retreat, which is the first of its kind held in the diocese in the last several years. She hopes this will become a new tradition. 

Father Tunarosa echoed Jacobo. “It truly was a wonderful event, very favorable for our community. It was uplifting for our catechists who were able to meet with other catechists,” he said. He added that since “they give so much, it is important to give them something back so that they can spiritually feed their own lives.”

The priest highlighted the efforts to serve the Hispanic community.

“It is not only necessary but indispensable because although the children speak English, they live their faith as a family, in the language and culture of their parents,” he said.

—Quote from Father Tunarosa provided by Margarita Mendoza.



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