The women who attended the Samaritana retreat at Sts. Joseph and Paul Parish in Owensboro on Sept. 4-5, 2021, gather for a group picture at the end of the retreat with retreat leaders Dcn. Chris Gutiérrez and Fr. Lustein Blanco Grajales. COURTESY OF DCN. CHRIS GUTIÉRREZ
What is the Samaritan Retreat?
BY FR. LUSTEIN BLANCO GRAJALES, SPECIAL TO THE WESTERN KENTUCKY CATHOLIC
The Samaritan Retreat is a Catholic human-spiritual experience for Hispanic women (particularly single mothers and widows), and is held in Spanish. It is an experience that emerged as a starting point for the pastors and parishes of the Diocese of Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Chiapas, Mexico, to initiate the so-called “Women’s Ministry.”The objective of the retreat is: “That in light of the Word of God and the Magisterium of the Church, women rediscover their identity, dignity and mission.” The vision is: “To honor, uphold and recognize the greatness of women.” The mission is: “Rescue, value and support women.”
During the retreat, first of all women are invited and challenged to “situation themselves,” that is, to see their reality according to the world and according to how they are perceived and valued up until that moment in their lives. Here, we use some simple elements of psychology to facilitate the work of reviewing on a human level.
After situating themselves in their reality, they are guided and enlightened with the Word of God, the Magisterium of the Church, Lectio Divina and pedagogical activities, so that they are convinced of their greatness as persons and daughters of God, and above all, so that they live by the motto of the experience: “With Queen Mary, worthy of being loved.”
They are then encouraged and exhorted to resume their mission as women, baptized members of the Church and society. They are offered moments to celebrate the faith within the experience and mainly the celebration of the Holy Eucharist at the close of the retreat.
In the Diocese of Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Chiapas, Mexico, the first three Samaritan Retreats were held Sept. 23-24, 2017; March 10-11, 2018; and May 29-30, 2021.
Here is a testimony from one of them:
“The Samaritan experience enriched me as a person and as a Christian, to be better every day, more sociable and serving others. I became convinced that God loves me and I reaffirmed the certainty that He is always by my side and that with Him everything is possible; I think I love Him more now. In the Samaritan Retreat, I also learned to face my fears, pain, sadness, abuse, both emotionally and physically. I came out strengthened and determined not to allow more abuse to my person and to put a stop to whoever tries to do it. I realized my worth as a person, a daughter of God, a woman, and above all that with Queen Mary, I am worthy of being loved.”
With God’s blessing and the initiative of the Hispanic Ministry director, Dcn. Chris Gutiérrez, we have carried out the fourth experience in the Diocese of Owensboro at Sts. Joseph and Paul Parish on Sept. 4-5, 2021. This retreat was for the women of the Our Lady of Guadalupe Region (one of the four Hispanic Ministry regions in this diocese). Twenty-seven women participated with excellent willingness and openness to live the experience, and I believe that the objective of renewing their lives and dreams was achieved. They were encouraged to be the women that God intended and created for his glory and the good of the Church and society. Motivated by the results of this first retreat in the diocese, we hope to organize and carry it out in the other three regions where the accompaniment of the Hispanic Ministry has been organized.
Fr. Lustein Blanco Grajales is the parochial vicar at St. Michael Parish in Sebree.
Originally printed in the November 2021 issue of The Western Kentucky Catholic.