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Trust and love in troubled times – Perth Catholics honour sainted French family
CLMF Director Derek Boylen, Morley Parish Priest Fr Greg Burke OCD, and CEWA Catechist team leader Dr Pina Ford answered audience questions in a panel format following the presentations and discussion. Photo: Matthew Lau.
By Eric Martin
Saintly wisdom was freely offered to some 130 guests attending “Trust and Love in Troubled Times, Drawing Inspiration from St Louie, St Zélie and St Thérèse”, a one-day spiritual retreat spearheaded by Catholic Mission, held at Infant Jesus Church, Morley Parish, on Thursday 1 October.
Morley Parish Priest Father Greg Burke OCD, Centre for Faith Marriage & Life Director Derek Boylen and his wife Karen, and Catholic Education WA Catechist Formation team leader Dr Pina Ford were the guest speakers for a half-day retreat exploring the life and lessons of the sainted French family.
“Their story gives me real hope, they lived in a time that was quite foreign to us, but through their love of each other, just going through the daily motions of life, they can actually raise a saint and achieve sainthood themselves: we can live this life for God even though there’s such turmoil in our lives,” Karen said.
“In our society we long for the good times and the romantic times, when we all feel close and connected to each other in family life, but I guess what we really discover is that God is just as much at work, and maybe even more at work, in the challenges, in the difficulties and as we strive to overcome them,” Derek explained.
“And what that makes of us as a couple and as a family, to trust God and lean into him and to allow God to work, even in the unknown – we’re not always sure what the answers are going to be or how it’s going to look as things move forward. But we trust that God’s there.”
Director of Catholic Mission Perth Francis Leong said he was thrilled with the level of attendance at the retreat and praised the level of cooperation between agencies and organisations that enabled it so successfully. Photo: Matthew Lau.
Derek elaborated that even though the Gospel calls us to love everyone, he believes God entrusts certain people specifically into our love and care.
“They’re people like our spouses, like the children that God brings into our families: there are people that God sends into our lives specifically to love them and to care about them.”
This concept of familial love was unpacked in great depth and with enormous compassion by Pina, who shared the highly personal story of her family’s journey learning to embrace life with their youngest son, Josh, who was born with Down's syndrome.
“The most important thing for me today was to be honest about my experience, yet I also kept thinking about how the audience would receive it – because of the work that I do in the area of Adult Faith, I’m also very conscious of what that might mean for someone else,” Pina said.
“One of the things that I really was careful about [and it is the reason why I think I’ve never really shared about our son in this way] is that I was concerned that people might hear it as a lesson that God gave us in our lives - and that’s very far from the truth. I hoped that they would hear how loved we have felt to have Josh and how Josh is a gift, a gift to us.
“Anything less than that, and I would feel that I, in some way, was not communicating the dignity of God’s love and the dignity of our son,” she explained.
“Our own children love him, not because of his needs, but because he is their brother: that’s who Josh is to us.”
Catholic Mission Director and retreat organiser Francis Leong said he was thrilled with the level of attendance – especially given the ongoing reality of the COVID-19 pandemic – and praised the cooperation among Catholic agencies that enabled the event.
“And that’s put down to the partnerships that we had: with The Record, with CLMF, CEWA, and with the Carmelites from Morley Parish,” Francis expressed.
“These partnerships make the event - we share the gifts and the joys of these events and I think that’s why it’s been so successful.”
Francis also highlighted that the depth of the questions posed by the audience at the end of the sessions were a genuine reflection of how much people had been impacted by the content.
“I think the sharing by our retreat directors really touched their hearts,” Francis added.
“Touched at the real core of their being: as Pope Francis says, you don’t evangelise by winning arguments, you evangelise by presenting something beautiful.”
The next major event being hosted by Catholic Mission is the “Christmas Reflection” at St Patrick’s Basilica in Fremantle, with more information available closer to the date on Catholic Mission’s website: https://www.catholicmission.org.au