DCCW retreat keynoter speaks of encountering God through mercy, sacraments

Categories: Around the Diocese

By Rita Meyer
For The Visitor

Nearly 200 women were treated to a day of inspiration and reflection on how “Mercy Leads to Joy!” at the St. Cloud Diocesan Council of Catholic Women’s Lenten retreat Feb. 27 at Sts. Peter and Paul Church in Richmond.

Father Don Wagner

Father Don Wagner

Following the morning registration, Mass was celebrated by Benedictine Father Edward Vebelun, pastor of Sts. Peter and Paul and St. Martin Parish in St. Martin. It was concelebrated by Father Don Wagner, pastor of parishes in Cambridge, Braham and Isanti.

During his homily, Father Vebelun illustrated God’s mercy using Rembrandt’s painting of the Prodigal Son as his example. The painting depicts five key people: the Father, the Prodigal Son, the Mother, the Adviser and the Other Son. Father Vebelun explained how we can see ourselves in each of those characters either giving or receiving mercy.

In his keynote address, Father Wagner also addressed mercy.

“Mercy is the supreme act of when God comes to be with us,” he said, adding that we have “grace encounters with God through the gifts of the sacraments.”

He used specific examples of how each sacrament is an intimate encounter with Christ, but he focused his attention on two sacraments: reconciliation and anointing of the sick.

He told personal stories about hearing confession at 30,000 feet in an airplane as well as administering the sacrament of anointing of the sick in the middle of the night at a nursing home to an individual who hadn’t talked with God in years. It was thanks to the wife’s phone call to Father Wagner and the priest’s willingness to drive the almost 20 miles even at that late hour that the man experienced God’s grace and mercy just hours before departing this world, Father Wagner said.

The afternoon session consisted of numerous meditative and reflective opportunities of experiencing God’s mercy, including confession, silent Stations of the Cross, prayer table reflections, as well as praying the Chaplet of Divine Mercy as a group.

The retreat concluded with door prize drawings of wooden crosses that the women from Paynesville had contributed as table centerpieces.

The next DCCW event — “Fun, Food and Fund Day” — will be at St. Francis Xavier Church in Sartell on June 9. All women of the St. Cloud Diocese are welcomed and invited to attend.

All Catholic women in the diocese are automatically members of the DCCW; no membership application is required.