Archbishop Nelson Perez invites Catholics in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia to join in a special six-day Lenten retreat presented online beginning Monday, March 30. He made the announcement Friday, March 27.
“The Power of Faith and Hope in a Time of Uncertainty: A Virtual Lenten Retreat” will present a video segment at 7 p.m. on Monday and extending each night to Palm Sunday, the start of Holy Week in the church.
The videos will be presented at that same time each night and posted to Archbishop Perez’s Facebook and Instagram pages, as well as the archdiocesan Vimeo channel, the archdiocesan website and CatholicPhilly.com.
Six of the videos will be in English and American Sign Language and one will be in Spanish.
The journey of Lent this year “has taken an unexpected turn with the worldwide outbreak of the Coronavirus (COVID-19),” the archbishop said in a statement. “In an effort to impede the spread of the virus and to protect those most vulnerable among us, all of us have changed the way that we live.
“Life as we understand it has temporarily changed, but this too shall pass. We are people whose hearts are grounded in our faith and in our hope. That is the strength that helps us during this time of uncertainty.”
While people remain in their homes in isolation and perhaps in quarantine, or at least observing social distancing to minimize transmission of the virus, “as believers and followers of Christ we know we are never truly alone and that he is always by our side,” Archbishop Perez said.
“It has been a painful, confusing, trying time for all of us, but in Christ and his triumph over the cross there is hope. Until we can safely be together again physically, we can pray together in spirit.”
The archbishop said he was “overjoyed” to announce the Lenten retreat, which will feature presenters from archdiocesan parishes and institutions.
The presenters include:
— Father Matthew Guckin, director of Catholic Mission and Identity for the Office for Catechetical Formation and parochial administrator of St. Francis de Sales Parish, Philadelphia;
— Deacon Anthony Willoughby of St. Ignatius of Loyola Parish, Philadelphia and campus minister at St. Francis Home for Children and St. Gabriel’s Hall;
— Megan Mohan, associate director of outreach for Anthem, the archdiocesan ministry for youth and young adults;
— Father Eric Banecker, parochial vicar of St. Pius X Parish, Broomall;
— Sister Maeve Nativitas, Sisters of Life, St. Malachy Convent, Philadelphia;
— Eustace Mita, co-founder and chairman of Man-Up Philly; and
— Father Matthew Biedrzycki, parochial vicar, Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul, Philadelphia.
American Sign Language interpretation will be provided by Sister Kathleen Schipani, I.H.M., director of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s Office for Persons with Disabilities and the Deaf Apostolate, and Father Seán Loomis, chaplain of the Deaf Apostolate and parochial vicar at Annunciation B.V.M. Parish, Havertown.
Archbishop Perez said the presenters “will bring Catholic families closer to Christ through Scripture, reflection and prayer.”
“Please consider participating in this upcoming Lenten video retreat,” he said. “Give this gift of hope to yourself. Christ is hope and through him we’re a people of hope. I’m praying for you during this time of uncertainty.”
Archbishop Perez recently recorded videos in English and in Spanish introducing this initiative — watch the video in English here, and the video in Spanish here.
Comprehensive information on the Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is available on its website, ArchPhila.org/covid19.
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