“Challenging, eye-opening, gut wrenching, sobered, empowered.”

Associates reflect on the stages of evolution described on cards on the floor.

Those were just some of the reactions to Saturday’s retreat when Viatorians from the Arlington Heights/Chicago region participated in a guided meditation that reflected on Pope Francis’ 2015 encyclical, Laudato Si’: On Care for our Common Home.

“The purpose of this retreat is to better acquaint us with the basics of the document, especially the spiritual call that it presents to all of us,” said Fr. Daniel Hall, CSV, a member of the regional leadership team. “This will lay the groundwork for future discussion
when we all come together as a Province. It will be more beneficial if we all begin at a common starting point.”

Regions will come together at the annual Provincial Assembly, set to take place Oct. 8-10 in Las Vegas, where as a Province they will discuss the Viatorian response to Laudato Si’.

On Saturday, Viatorians gathered at the Well Spirituality Center, run by the Sisters of St. Joseph in La Grange Park, IL. Their retreat facilitators were Sr. Pat Bergen, CSJ, and Sr. Kathy Sherman, CSJ, who is a musician and spiritual director.

“The presenters gently challenged us through prayerful reflection, discussion, singing and a prayer walk to really think about our connection to the earth,” said Br. Rob Robertson, CSV,

Br. Peter Lamick, left, and Br. Michael Gosch, reflect on the stations around a depiction of the earth in the center.

The mission of the Well Spirituality Center is to invite contemplation, self-reflection and empowered engagement in social and ecological justice. Specifically, its holistic programs aim to foster an appreciation for participants’ places as agents of healing in the unfolding universe story.

At the retreat, Viatorians sat in a circle around an image of the earth, before taking a prayer walk through a series of stations that took them through evolution and the beginning of creation, through the thousands of years before human beings came into existence, and the relatively quick series of climate changes that followed.

They broke into smaller groups to discuss goals of Laudato Si’, including: ecological spirituality, adoption of a simple lifestyle, ecological education, ecological economics, community resilience and empowerment, cry of earth and cry of the poor.

“We all left the day with some personal commitment to work towards helping to sustain our planet,” Br. Rob adds. “We must start somewhere.”