Thursday, January 23, 2014

Retreat in Hawaii

A couple weeks ago, during the coldest week (so far) of our Wisconsin winter, I went to Hawaii to
give a retreat to the priests and bishop of the Honolulu Diocese. The view from St. Stephen’s Retreat Center was spectacular and the weather was perfect, though the local TV weather station told people that we would be having a “two blanket night” because the temperatures were going to fall to 60.  I survived.  This photo is from the dining room and in the distance you can see the ocean.

The Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace is the oldest cathedral in continuous use in the United States. It was dedicated in 1843 and St. Damien, the leper priest of Molokai, was ordained there on May 21, 1864. On either side of the sanctuary you will find pictures and relics of both St. Damien and St. Marianne Cope, a Franciscan Sister who cared for lepers, including Fr. Damien during the last year or so of his life.  Today is Mother Marianne’s feast. Here is a saying of hers: “What little good we can do in this world to help and comfort the suffering, we wish to do it quietly and so far as possible unnoticed and unknown.” 

One of the priests who was on the retreat and whose company I enjoyed at meals was Fr. Cletus  Mooya. He was from Zambia and he came to Hawaii with two other Africans who were members of the Oratorians, a group founded by St. Philip Neri in 1575. They were unable to start an Oratory in Hawaii and ended up becoming diocesan priests for Honolulu. A week ago I was shocked to receive a message that Fr. Cletus had suddenly gone into a coma and died. He was only 40. I hope my retreat, with its focus on the deep, enduring love of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, helped prepare him to meet the Lord. May Fr. Cletus rest in peace and may his family in Zambia and the friends he made and people he served in Hawaii be consoled. Amen.

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