Spirituality. Enlightenment. A sense of community.

The annual retreat at Graymoor for the Tertiaries of the Society of the Atonement and the Society of Franciscan Deacons was a hallowed adventure. 

“It went very well,” said Deacon Tom Rich, TSA, the Holy Mountain Franciscan Retreat Center’s Executive Director. “It was a very good retreat for us. We’re all very close in our work and so forth. It was very enjoyable.”

This year’s weeklong retreat was held July 17-22 and it included an abundance of activities. 

The Tertiaries and Deacons read and interpreted a book written about St. Francis: “Surrounded by Love: Seven Teachings from St. Francis,” authored by noted priest Father Murray Bodo, OFM. They each read chapters individually, then reconvened to consider the topics and themes. 

“We came together and discussed it. What did it say to each individual person?” Deacon Tom explained. “It was rewarding in a sense we all got to share with each other.”

Dcn. Tom Rich, TSAThe week also included a viewing of two religious films. The first was a new film centered on the life of St. Padre Pio, who was an Italian Franciscan Friar and miracle worker. Retreatants also watched and studied a film on the rosary, which drew much interest.

“(In the film about the rosary) different people – deacons, lay people, so forth – spoke about their devotion to the rosary. How we need to again turn to the rosary in order to save our society and the world, in the direction which it is going,” Deacon Tom said. “So those were two very powerful messages, from Padre Pio and the message from these real-life individuals, who are everyday working people, and who have come to realize that Mary can hold the answer for us transforming our society and whole world.”

Viewing the films, Deacon Tom added, gave everyone a sense of union and community.

Retreatants attended Mass each day, in a chapel set up on the third floor of the St. Pius X building. They also attended adoration, held benediction and meditation, and recited the Franciscan Crown. The Franciscan Crown is a rosary consisting of seven decades in commemoration of the seven joys of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Joining Deacon Tom were Deacon Gary Swane, TSA, Deacon Tom Malone, TSA, and four Deacons from the Society of Franciscan Deacons. The Society of Franciscan Deacons was co-founded by Deacon Tom in 2004.

“Everyone got a spiritual experience out of it,” Deacon Tom said. “It went very well.”