Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Decades and decades of service: Priests' Retreat in Priestfield, WV: June 15 - 19, 2009

June 23, 2009

Peace and Good,

This past week I was in Priestfield,, WV, for a retreat with priests from the diocese of Harrisburg, PA. There were about a dozen of them, and most of them were retired or soon to retire. What was remarkable was that even those who were quite elderly (80's and 90's) were still helping out in the local parishes. There was a tremendous fraternal spirit among them.

Priestfield is one of four retreat houses in the Charleston-Wheeling (all of West Virginia) diocese. I have heard a couple of versions of how they were built. The latest was that the bishop was on a ship and was asked by some people to be a fourth in playing Bridge. By the time that the journey was over, he had been given a considerable donation (either an oil well or money from oil, again, the details are different in the various versions). The four houses were built from the proceeds of that donation. Priestfield is a wonderfully prayerful place.

I mentioned to one of the priests that I will be preaching a St. Anne's novena in July. He told me a story about his devotion to St. Anne. When he was in his 30's, he had a very serious heart attack. The doctor told him that he would never be able to work again. He prayed to St. Anne and promised that if he could perform his priestly duties, he would make a pilgrimage to St. Anne in Beauprey, Quebec. He slowly recovered, and then when he made his pilgrimage, he realized that he wasn't suffering from any discomfort from his heart condition. That was well over 30 years ago, and he has been in ministry ever since.

I finished a book on the CIA and KGB during the period that led up to the fall of the Soviet Union. The title is the Main Enemy by Milt Bearden and James Risen. It was fascinating. There is so much going on in the world that we cannot even begin to understand. We hear press reports and think that we know all the details, but there are layers and layers of truth and lies that make it so difficult to figure out what is right and wrong in the world. This book also spoke of two of the great traitors during that era: Aldridge Ames and Robert Hansen. I just don't understand how they could have done it.

This week I am in Kensington, MD, giving a retreat to the Holy Cross Sisters.

God bless and

fr. Jude


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