Ask any active, on fire Catholic, young or old, what ignited their faith? Very likely they will tell you they made a retreat. Ask a priest or women religious what spurred them to pursue their vocation? Surveys have shown that a high percentage of them began to seriously consider this possibility when they made a retreat. Prior to Confirmation youth send me letters requesting the Sacrament and telling me about their growth as disciples of Jesus. They frequently speak of the transformative role retreats have had in their life of Faith.
When I was installed as Bishop of El Paso nearly 5 years ago now it really hit home to me how big a role retreats play in strengthening, and in many cases, reviving, the Faith of our people here. During my homily I mentioned those whose Faith had grown in charismatic retreats, marriage encounters, evangelization retreats and ACTS retreats. With the mention of each retreat experience the cheers grew until the Convention Center shook with the roar of those who had made an ACTS Retreat. The response left no question in my mind about the essential role these retreats play in our lives today.
Finances for the Diocese have been very tight lately but I could not say no, nor could our Presbyteral Council or Catholic Properties Board, when Dr. Mena offered to sell the Holy Trinity Retreat Center at a very favorable price and under very favorable terms to the Diocese of El Paso. This was a place into which he had poured his blood, sweat and finances these last twelve years. After living his own ACTS retreat Dr. Ascension Mena had seen a need for these life-changing experiences to have a home in El Paso. With his skills as an organizer, a businessman and a builder he gathered dedicated men and ACTS brothers and sisters around him to build this impressive facility literally from the ground up.
Step by step they added facilities especially geared to ACTS, but useful for any retreat or meeting experience. It was not planned to be luxurious or ritzy but it would provide a place where people could gather and God could work. Many will tell you today how much this simple facility in the desert has meant for their walk with God.
We have only in the last few days completed the purchase of the facility so future plans are still in the works. We will certainly need everyone’s support to make this bold new undertaking a success. Stay tuned for exciting announcements as we bring together people with vision to develop the full potential of our amazing new facility! In the meantime start planning your retreats and other church related meetings at your new diocesan home. Just call the Catholic Properties office at 915.872.8406 or 915.355.0978.
Most Rev. Mark J. Seitz