My Experience of the Self-Exposure to Christ During the Annual Retreat.
At the end of every formation year in the second cycle formation house in Nairobi, Kenya, there is always the annual directed retreat for first and second year students. The annual retreat is the last activity of the formation year for these students. After the annual retreat, those in first year theology normally embark on their six weeks of pastoral experience in different parts of Kenya. Those in the second year go on their annual holidays in their respective home countries. For the past several years the retreat has been in different retreat centres throughout Kenya.
This yearly annual retreat has two purposes. First, it is always a time for renewing, reforming and deepening of the spiritual life of the student. Secondly, the retreat prepares first year students for their six weeks pastoral work.
However, this year was extraordinary in terms of the normal tradition of annual retreats. As mentioned in my recent article on the impact of COVID-19, on our formation program. Despite, the challenges presented by COVID-19, the formation staff were still able to organize a retreat for the students.
The annual retreat of this year was a preached retreat, not directed as is usually the case. We stayed in the formation house since the different retreat centres were closed because of the pandemic. The annual retreat started on 12th to the 17th of May. The facilitator was Sr Catherine, a Loreto Sister. Participant were the first, second, and fourth year students. The third year students did not take part because of their thirty days retreat, which they hopefully may have in July. The fourth years took part because of the impact of the COVID-19, which affected their flights. The retreat lasted six days.
This annual retreat was very special for me. First, it was an opportunity to reflect and to renew my relationship with God especially in the midst of the pandemic. It was a time to reflect more on those values, which I mentioned in the reecent article that I wrote on the impact of the pandemic in my personal life. Secondly, it was a time to disconnect from the world in order to connect with God. Thirdly, it was a special experience to follow a preached retreat after a couple years. Fourthly, it was solemn and the environment was conducive for reflection and contemplation. The silence and the discipline shown by the retreatants helped me to pray more. In addition, it was a time to surrender my weaknesses to God. Finally, it was a moment to make some resolutions in my life as I proceed with my vocational discernment.
It was a wonderful and enriching experience for me. In a special way, I render sincere gratitude to our formation staff for organizing the retreat despite the uncertainties around the world.
Nobert Yarshikeh, theology student