More people make retreats today than at any other previous time of history.
More lay people make retreats today than before.
More lay people preach or animate retreats today than ever.
More young people make—and organize—retreats today than at any other previous time.

India has the most frequented retreat centres in the world. While teaching at the Catholic Theological Union, Chicago, I would tell the MAPS (MA in Pastoral Studies) students that India has many retreat centres, and that one of them, the Divine Retreat Centre in Potta, attracts the largest number of retreatants in the world. I would then ask: Can you guess how many attend? They make their guesses—one hundred, three hundred, five hundred. They would look at me flabbergasted when I told them the actual numbers: six thousand, eight thousand, ten thousand!

When a research scholar at Madras University collected data from former participants in the Potta/Muringoor retreats, he found that the feedback was overwhelmingly positive.

So many persons have so many good things to say about their retreat experience. This includes those who went reluctantly. They found themselves changing over the course of the week. No wonder more and more retreat centres come up in different parts of the country.

We chose “Retreats” as our cover theme this month, for a simple reason: Many religious and priests will make their annual retreat in April or May. So, too, many parishes will have Lenten missions which are often done like mini-retreats.

MAGNET has this on the menu for you:

  • Retreat experiences, as seen by participants and by preachers.
  • A look at contemplative retreats by a Carmelite priest who quit a career in engineering to become a priest. Experience has shown him the key role of love if we want to reach the Centre.
  • Another priest who has preached retreats to various groups describes the conditions for a fruitful retreat.
  • A sister who has given retreats to a hundred religious orders, including her own, shares her insights, and makes suggestions.
  • Our popular couple from Chicago find spiritual retreats more effective than normal parish missions or the corporate “retreats” business people attend. Follow-up makes a big difference.
  • A chaplain in a high security prison feels the need of a one-month retreat. See what he found.
  • Youth retreats can do much—if done in ways that appeal to the young. They differ in contents, style and method from what priests and religious normally expect in a retreat.

Write and tell us your retreat experiences. We shall publish the most striking ones in the next issue of MAGNET.

What matters more, of course, is:
May you make a deeply effective and life-giving retreat!

And (if you are a retreat preacher or director), may this ministry draw you closer to God, make you marvel at the wonders God’s love does in people, and help many others to discover the wonderful plans God has for them. After all, He had EVERYONE of us in mind when He told us through Jeremiah: “I know the plans I have for you. They are plans of hope, not of disaster—to give you a future and a hope.”

Fr Joe Mannath SDB

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