The 2019 Annual Lay Carmelite Retreat was held at Enders Island in Mystic, Connecticut on the weekend of June 21-23. Forty-five retreatants from communities throughout Connecticut and New York enjoyed four conferences on “The Psalms” presented by Father Francis Amodio, O. Carm., Provincial Delegate for the Province of St. Elias in Middletown, New York.
“Jesus prayed the psalms, and as a church, we pray the Psalms as we pray the Liturgy of the Hours. This is the prayer of the church. The Psalms are written by and for the people of God,” stated Father Francis. As Carmelites, we are called to meditate on the law of the Lord, which is the Word of God, as outlined in the Rule of St. Albert, chapter 10: “…meditating day and night on the law of The Lord and being vigilant in prayer, unless otherwise lawfully occupied.”
It is customary to have retreats for the Lay Carmelite members each year. We have celebrated at different retreat centers, however, this year, we were able to experience God at Ender’s Island. This location with its beautiful view of the water coupled with the quiet, serene beauty of the Island allowed the members and non-members of the order to reflect and recollect on the experience of silence. The chapel and the grotto near the water were superb! The staff showed a welcome spirit and the dining was the best that we have ever had on any other retreat.
“Our Lay Carmelite Retreat on Enders Island was truly inspired by the Holy Spirit and was amazing,” stated Karen Szalkiewicz from the Holy Face Community in Middletown, Connecticut. “Being with our Carmelite brothers and sisters is only an experience that can be felt from your head to the heart.”
Carmel Brown from the Mystical Rose Community in Shelton Connecticut, expressed that there is no better place on earth than Enders Island “… to appreciate the marvel of God’s beauty, to restore our faith in God, and to realize why we became Carmelites.”
Finally, Maria Paterno from Mary, Mother of the Redeemer Community in Groton, Connecticut, described the retreat at Enders Island as gorgeous and peaceful. “Seeing the beauty and vastness of the ocean makes you appreciate all that God has created for us. Being together in community with our Carmelite family was truly a blessing.”
The beautifully landscaped grounds and great weather created a perfect opportunity to enjoy ice cream during a Saturday afternoon discussion on prayer. Judy Gascoigne, from the Mystical Rose Chapter in Shelton, Connecticut, was especially moved by Father Francis’s reflections about silence. Being a person who loves silence, she views it is as necessary when living in the presence of God.
Along with Father Francis, the group was blessed to have another Carmelite Friar at the retreat, Father Nicholas Blackwell, O. Carm., who delivered homilies for the Saturday and Sunday masses. Father Nicholas (aka “The Frank Friar”) is a dynamic speaker who has a Website, a Podcast, a blog, and a YouTube channel. His social media ministry brings God and the Carmelite spirituality to the world. Prayer is one of the charisms of the Carmelite Way, so the Liturgy of the Hours, the Rosary, the Divine Mercy Chaplet, and Adoration were prayed throughout the weekend. We are looking forward to our 2020 Lay Carmelite Retreat, which will once again be held on Enders Island on June 12-14.
The Lay Carmelites are part of the Third Order branch of the Carmelite Order. Lay Carmelites promise to live the Gospel in the contemplative spirit of Carmel including the practice of prayer in all its forms, the Divine Office and Lectio Divina, as well as the other elements of the order’s charism—fraternal community and service. There are six lay Carmelite communities in Connecticut: Groton, Middletown, Wethersfield, Waterbury, Shelton, and Danbury. New members are always welcome. We are looking forward to our 2020 Lay Carmelite Retreat, which will once again be held on Enders Island on June 12-14. For further information, please contact Suzanne Henderson, Regional Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org.