Parishioners Thankful for Experience at Urban Mission Retreat
Over the Nov. 20-21 weekend, 30 Saint Clement parishioners and Fr. Rex came together for the Urban Mission Retreat, a weekend set aside to allow participants the opportunity to expand their view of Chicago through service, while exploring the connection to their faith. The retreat was held overnight at the Mission of Our Lady of the Angels in West Humboldt Park, a Mission devoted to serving those most in need, hosting a food pantry, clothing giveaways, youth and senior programming, and more. The Mission of Our Lady of the Angels may sound familiar to you, as their very own Sr. Alicia Torres won the Nov. 9 episode of "Chopped" on the Food Network!
The weekend began with a simple supper, followed by an inspiring talk on faith, service, and vocation by Fr. Bob Lombardo, Director of the Mission. He encouraged us to look for Christ's face in all, and reminded us of the responsibility we have to treat each person we encounter with dignity and love, based in Matthew 25: "Truly..to the extent that you did it to even the least of them, you did it to Me."
Friday night concluded with Fr. Rex leading us in a guided prayer, the Ignatian Examen.The Examen is an ancient practice in the Church that can help us see God's hand at work in our whole experience. Retreat participant Dennis Walter remarked, "During this time of Thanksgiving, I hope to reflect on the blessings that God provides me each day....even when I think the day didn't go as well as I thought!"
Saturday morning began bright and early with Mass and breakfast. The remainder of the morning was spent directly serving the members of the West Humboldt Park community, as our retreat group, along with volunteers from Mundelein Seminary and the Notre Dame alumni group, assisted with the fourth annual prayer service, breakfast, and turkey giveaway, hosted by the Mission for 150 families. Senator Dick Durbin made a cameo appearance at the Mission to serve the community as well!
A prayer service with the community kicked off the morning in the church, led in song by several members of our Saint Clement community. Breakfast then took place in the dining hall downstairs, as volunteers served over 600 neighbors a hot, sit-down meal. Following breakfast, approximately 150 families then received a turkey and complete Thanksgiving meal, provided in part by the volunteers and other items donated by Saint Clement Church and School. Thanks to all who so willingly donated food and funds this past month! Together, we were also able to give the Mission a cash donation of over $1,500.
Following the breakfast and giveaway, parishioner Maggie Tobin led us in a reflection of our service, challenging us to remember those we met that morning, to find Christ in those we serve, and to consider our responsibilities to share our blessings with those less fortunate. Retreat participant Joanne Turner reflected on the weekend, "The Urban Mission Retreat gave me the opportunity to put aside time for God and take time out to serve others. I walked away refreshed and deeply grateful for all God has given me."