by Katie Peterson
Special to The Leaven
In a recent apostolic letter titled “Patris corde” (“With a father’s heart”), Pope Francis proclaimed that Dec. 8, 2020, through Dec. 8, 2021, would be known as the Year of Saint Joseph in honor of the 150th anniversary of the declaration of St. Joseph as patron of the Universal Church.
To help adults, high school age and older, observe this, Prairie Star Ranch will host a daylong virtual and in-person “Retreat with the Heart of St. Joseph” from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on March 20 in Williamsburg.
“It’s really a retreat in which we want to invite people to get to know St. Joseph and connect with him and learn from his example . . . on how to connect with and live for God more profoundly, especially in our present circumstances,” said Grace Malinee, Prairie Star Ranch retreat team missionary.
“It really is an opportunity for all people who maybe . . . haven’t had much opportunity to step away and be with the Lord and take time for prayer and contemplation . . . to be out here in the country on our beautiful property,” she added, “to have a safe and reflective day and time alone with Our Lord to refresh and recharge.
“We’re just hoping to give retreatants time away from normal life to just be with Our Lord, to contemplate him and his goodness, and what he’s been doing in their lives and be able to grow in relationship with St. Joseph.”
Organizers also see this as an opportunity for Catholics both able and unable to travel to the ranch for the retreat, to participate in the diocesan initiative “Enflame Our Hearts, Homes, Communities.”
“It’ll give people a chance to get their hearts enflamed by the love of the Lord and a renewed zeal and a refreshed spirit,” Malinee said.
Gregory Wellnitz, Prairie Star Ranch director, said the retreat will have a guided retreat format that will include three meditations given by Dr. Troy Hinkel and Joe Heschmeyer from the Holy Family School of Faith in Overland Park with time for prayer and reflection in between.
“A retreat is simply a daylong conversation with Our Lord and Maker. It gives us that opportunity to have a deeper conversation with him that maybe we’ve been missing out on for a long time, and I’m excited to be able to offer that in a new way,” Wellnitz said.
“In between the 45- to 60-minute meditations, retreatants will have an opportunity to set aside time for personal prayer . . . and really explore the depths of the meditation they just heard and see where God is trying to point them,” he said.
Wellnitz said meditations will include multiple focuses on St. Joseph, including “Seven Secrets of St. Joseph’s Heart,” “The Hidden Heart of St. Joseph,” and “Heart of the Father.”
“St. Joseph’s hidden life in Nazareth can be a model for us how to live holiness in a pandemic when there’s isolation anonymity,” Wellnitz said. “In the last year, entertainment and distraction have become more and more a part of our lives because being at home, protecting the people around us, has led to greater isolation . . . and more time watching entertainment and finding distractions in life, which has made it hard for a lot of us to spend time in prayer because there’s all that noise.”
“This is an opportunity for each of us, every single person that has experienced this last year, to step away from that noise, step away from those distractions and allow that voice to really speak to us and direct our lives through the intercession of St. Joseph,” Wellnitz added.
Along with the meditations and times for personal prayer, the retreat will include eucharistic adoration, a communal rosary, an opportunity to receive the sacrament of reconciliation and a vigil Mass celebrated by Father Agustin Martinez of St. Paul Church in Olathe.
The cost of the retreat is $45 for each in-person retreatant. Because of COVID-19 precautions, only 45 retreatants will be allowed to attend in person. Additionally, face coverings will be required, and social distancing and the use of hand sanitizer will be observed. Lunch will also be provided.
The cost is free for virtual retreatants, but donations are encouraged.
For more information or to register, visit the website at: archkck.org, type “COR” in the search box, then click on the top link. Because in-person is limited, early registration is encouraged. Virtual registrations will be accepted through March 19.