For Deacon Dana McCarthy of St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Wildwood, a weekend retreat spent with his wife, Diane, in prayer and reflection was the perfect ending to a hectic week. Making the weekend even more meaningful was the topic of the retreat – “On the Road to Emmaus: From Being Good People to Becoming Great Disciples” – based on the Gospel of Luke 24:13-35.
Pictured: Keynote speaker, Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, Father Daniel Renaud
“For the past eight years, I have led a Bible study at my parish,” Deacon McCarthy said. “We have been taking our time working through the Bible. This week we began studying Luke 24, which includes the passage about the road of Emmaus. I don’t think of this as a coincidence. I see it as a blessing.”
The McCarthy’s were among 24 couples participating in the couples retreat, sponsored by the Deacon’s Council of the Diocese of Orlando, April 24-26, at the San Pedro Spiritual Development Center. The keynote speaker was Congregation of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate Father Daniel Renaud, former director of Campus Ministry St. Paul University in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Today, Father Renaud speaks throughout the United States and Canada and continues to minister as a chaplain at St. Paul University.
Deacon David Gray, director of permanent diaconate for Diocese of Orlando, said the theme of the retreat was selected to help deacons and their wives experience a greater bond in their vocation and ministry.
“In the walk of Emmaus, we see the two disciples walking along the road with Christ,” Deacon Gray said. “What if the disciples were husband and wife? For deacons, we have a lot of challenges in life, a lot of challenges in our ministry. When we can share those challenges with our wives, then we find Christ together in that walk.”
“I thought it was a wonderful idea that the second disciple on the road to Emmaus was quite likely a woman, that they were a couple,” said Deacon McCarthy. “You could see it had a tremendous impact on all of the couples.”
The retreat featured a series of small talks from Father Renaud, followed by time of private meditation, prayer and sharing as husband and wife. In one talk, “Breaking the Word: Mystical Presence,” Father Renaud urged the participants to truly immerse themselves in Scripture, to become part of the text.
The Bible is a written work of art,” he said. “It is so powerful and deep that we will never exhaust its richness and wisdom. Each time you read it, you will feel it, you will experience it. Each time you pray it, you will experience something different.”
Diane said that the small group discussions helped the couples bond with each other.
“Everyone at the retreat seemed to be in sync with everyone else,” Diane said. “There was a real feeling of family and community. It seemed as if everybody was walking the same road. I don’t think there was a person there who wasn’t helped and wasn’t filled with the spirit.”