February 28, 2014

New retreat hopes to help people who have ‘Lost Sight of God’

By John Shaughnessy

Inspired by Pope Francis’ image of the Church as a field hospital, Father Jeff Godecker hopes that a new retreat program at Our Lady of Fatima Retreat House in Indianapolis will lead to a sense of healing for people who are struggling in their relationship with God.

“Pope Francis has urged us to spend more time with those on the periphery of the faith,” Father Godecker notes. “We think of people who have left the Church who are angry, those who have suffered significant loss and now have lost sight of God in their grief. We think of those who have just drifted away. We think of people who feel betrayed and also those who have lost hope.

“We could also add those who have simply become indifferent. Some of these people may even be sitting in the pews, and they struggle with God and faith. We would like to reach out to any who are struggling for whatever reason.”

That desire is at the heart of the “Lost Sight of God” retreat program that will be led by Father Godecker and Mary Schaffner, associate director of spiritual ministries at the Fatima Retreat House, located at 5353 E. 56th St. in Indianapolis.

The “Lost Sight of God” program has three sessions, and interested people are invited to take part in any individual session or all the sessions.

The first one, “The Courage to Step In,” is from 5 to 9 p.m. on April 10.

The second session, “I will walk in the presence of the Lord in the land of the living,” is from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on June 5.

The third session, “Walking toward Wholehearted Faith,” is from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Oct. 18. Each session is $30 per person.

Father Godecker and Schaffner stress that listening to the retreat participants about their struggles with God will be a major part of the program.

“It’s a place to begin,” says Father Godecker, a retired priest of the archdiocese. “We would start by asking them what has brought them here, what are they struggling about. There will be a structure to the program, but, by and large, what we’ll do will depend on what we hear.”

The program will also use Scripture, the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola, and the experiences of Father Godecker and Schaffner as ministers to offer “an opportunity for hope and healing,” the priest says.

“We hope that somehow this person has a sense of God’s love of them once again,” Father Godecker says. “Our primary purpose is working on their relationship with God and their relationship with Jesus Christ. Hopefully, that love can empower them to get past whatever is keeping them from God. We want that individual to be restored, renewed and healed.

“Of course, we would also like them to come back to the Church. Certainly one of the ways that healing can take place is in the sacraments, especially the Eucharist.”

(Online registration for each session can be made by visiting the website, www.archindy.org/fatima, and clicking “register.” Registration is also possible by calling 317-545-7681.)


Related story: Coming home: Young adult Catholic returns to the Church after journey of heartbreak and separation

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