Recovering Origins Goes to New York City!

The Life-Giving Wounds team traveled to New York City last weekend, June 22 to 24. We led a retreat for 25 participants, mostly young adults, in the heart of Manhattan. It was located at the wonderful Catholic campus ministry center at New York University, run by the Dominican brothers of the province of Saint Joseph, about three blocks from the famous Greenwich Village! It was an incredible blessing for all who attended!

Our arrival in NYC started off in a very strange fashion. As fellow retreat leader Lacy and I were almost arriving at the Catholic center, a desperate man just decided to walk into the middle of a busy intersection and sit down. He seemed to be calling for help or for someone to notice. Paralyzed by fear and the worry that a car would hit him, we started to pray. Cars zipped by. Did anyone see him? Should we get out of the car to help him? Before we could act, a woman went up to him and whatever she said, she was able to counsel him to get off the street.

As I pondered the meaning of this event, I thought it was a very fitting sign at the beginning of the retreat in New York City as so many of us children of divorce and separation have been calling out as well for someone to notice our suffering. Does anyone see us like this man?! We see you. The Life-Giving Wounds team wants to help you in your wounds. You are not alone – scroll below to see a picture of individuals with the same wounds who are seeking and finding healing in the Lord.

One thing that struck me during the retreat is just how much all of us – no matter the age –  crave a face to face encounter with others who walk with the same wounds, and want to have this encounter in a constructive, healing way with Christ the Lord. Today there are many resources online, but it was clear that all of us on the retreat really needed that encounter of love in Christ together face-to-face. For a weekend, we were blessed to receive it and now we go forth treasuring in our hearts those encounters.

And boy were there many great encounters of love. I loved the personal conversations with each person. When they shared their wounds, I felt a deep compassionate connection to them as if like family and always thought to myself “what a gift each person here is.” Lacy had similar thoughts that she shared with me on our travel home – “I just want to hug each one of them and it was amazing how they became like brothers and sisters to me in such a short time. We’ll be forever bonded in prayer!” Indeed, each one was precious in the sight of God and had something very important to teach me and all of the retreatants about life, love, and the faith. They are the true heroes of the retreat. I never stop learning from listening to the stories of the retreatants.

 I also remain in awe and humbled by the small group sharing. There was real vulnerability, putting aside all masks (so rare in our culture!). We shared our wounds openly and sought God throughout all of the conversation. There were many moments of crying, but also profound times of joy, prayer, and insight. All of it was refreshing to the soul.  

Here is a group picture of everyone!

Here is a group picture of everyone!

Speaking of “refreshing,” we also had a blessed time of encounter in prayer during praise and worship Eucharistic Adoration and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in the beautiful chapel at the Catholic Center at NY.

 In addition to Adoration, there was a chance for the Sacrament of Reconciliation. I love the healing graces of that sweet Sacrament! Interestingly, on the way back to our host’s apartment, there was a beautiful sculpture depicting the power of the Sacrament that moved me very much. Here are some photos of it: 

Here I’m sitting in “confession” with my Recovering Origins Binder and Saint Padre Pio - notice how the confessional screen is the Crucifix.

Here I’m sitting in “confession” with my Recovering Origins Binder and Saint Padre Pio - notice how the confessional screen is the Crucifix.

Beautiful depiction of Christ.

Beautiful depiction of Christ.

The Life-Giving Wound of Christ working through St. Padre Pio (the priest) absolving a Sinner in Reconciliation! This was what was facing me on the side I was sitting - beautiful!

The Life-Giving Wound of Christ working through St. Padre Pio (the priest) absolving a Sinner in Reconciliation! This was what was facing me on the side I was sitting - beautiful!

Notice how it is the wound of Christ that heals and absolves the penitent through the hands of the priest, here depicted by Padre Pio? “By His Wounds You are Healed” (1 Peter 2:24) came immediately to mind, which is an important Bible verse for our retreat.

Another “refreshing” moment or moment of love was the marvelous dinner on Saturday night! Robert, our chef, and Jackie, our sous-chef, made an amazing Lamb Ragu and even served some great wine, which was a first for a Recovering Origins retreat! In addition, for breakfast, we had REAL NYC BAGELS (the most amazing bagels on the planet) with obligatory large quantities of cream cheese (mmm still dreaming of the chive cream cheese)!!! Robert definitely set the bar high for future retreat food. Here are some pictures of the food and the team in the kitchen:

Real NYC Bagels!!! So thick, so delicious!!

Real NYC Bagels!!! So thick, so delicious!!

Here’s the team working and…having fun in the kitchen!

Here’s the team working and…having fun in the kitchen!

More Kitchen time…Jackie always knows how to strike the perfect pose too…

More Kitchen time…Jackie always knows how to strike the perfect pose too…

We had time for celebration with some wine too (a first for a Recovering Origins retreat)….lots of joy doing the Lord’s work…here we are toasting the Lord …

We had time for celebration with some wine too (a first for a Recovering Origins retreat)….lots of joy doing the Lord’s work…here we are toasting the Lord …

Also, I’d be remiss to mention how I and others encountered love through the retreat team. The Life-Giving Wounds traveling retreat team always partners with local leaders to form a single LGW team in an effort to help train a local team to carry on the work after we leave. This retreat was no different, but boy did we have some all-star local leaders help the retreat team! We had not just one, but two amazing religious orders join us – the Dominican Friars and the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal! I was profoundly touched by all of them – Fr. John Baptist O.P., Fr. Pier Giorgio O.P., Fr. Luke Joseph C.F.R., and Br. Peter Marie C.F.R. They were all wonderful examples of the priesthood and religious life. Men who were great at accompanying others in the wound and offered healing through their witness (most of them were adult children of divorce), advice, and of course the presence of Christ in the Sacraments.

The others that joined the LGW team for the first time was the joyful Jackie, who not only made a Recovering Origins retreat just a few months prior in DC but also did a lot behind the scenes work with marketing or food preparation and helped in small groups as well, and the hilarious, tough, common sense, big-hearted Carmen from the Archdiocese of New York Family Life Office, who assisted with small groups. And then there is the team member who made all of this happen – Robert. He sacrificed so much of his time and did all of the behind the scenes logistics with me leading up to the retreat as well as many of the logistics during the retreat. In addition to that, he has an amazing witness and profound faith shaped in the forge of suffering. I was impressed by the depth in which he has processed his wounds with Christ and I learned a lot from him. He is an excellent man of God. None of the graces of the retreat would have happened without his effort. We all owe a debt of profound gratitude to Robert for starting this ministry in New York City. Here’s praying that it will continue with his and others’ help! The LGW team is prepared to help continue to make this a reality. Here is a picture of the entire team:

There is one person missing in this picture though - Br. Peter who had to take the photo!!! What a great team!!! One of the best!!!

There is one person missing in this picture though - Br. Peter who had to take the photo!!! What a great team!!! One of the best!!!

Finally, I’d like to close with just a small sample of the grateful comments from retreatants on their evaluations that keeps us going in what we are doing:

“I would certainly recommend it as this is the only time I’ve ever seen a retreat with this focus – so unique for the Catholic Church, which doesn’t usually address this issue – so very grateful for it – to be supported in community by it is a true blessing.”

“This was life-changing. I received many graces and experienced the beginning of my healing of many wounds from divorce. Recommending it to everyone.”

“My deep wounds were uncovered in a loving, safe, understanding atmosphere. I wouldn’t recommend it … it should be a mandatory must for everyone who experienced that trauma!!! This topic should be talked about more in the church to bring more awareness to this problem.”

It is comments like these that explain why we do Recovering Origins and the Life-Giving Wounds ministry – and why our hearts are so filled with joy when we do it. We are so humbled by these words and we are so blessed to have served the Lord in these remarkable individuals this weekend! Come Holy Spirit and continue to fill their hearts! May your healing through our ministry continue to spread to other parts of the country and continue to take root in NYC!