In response to listening sessions, five-week virtual healing retreat begins Oct. 18

| October 7, 2020 | 0 Comments

Sarah McCauley, a marriage and family therapist and parishioner of Transfiguration in Oakdale, speaks on camera Sept. 30 about healing for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis’ five-week virtual “Healing and Hope” retreat, which begins Oct. 18. TOM HALDEN | THE CATHOLIC SPIRIT

A five-part, virtual retreat called “Healing and Hope” begins Oct. 18 as part of preparations in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis for the upcoming Archdiocesan Synod.

Father Joseph Bambenek, the Synod’s assistant director, said the need for hope and healing surfaced in the comments of several hundreds of attendees of Pre-Synod Prayer and Listening Events held from September 2019 to March 2020. Members of the Synod prayer team also suggested that the topic be addressed as part of the Synod.

When Archbishop Bernard Hebda was discerning topics for the Synod focus areas, Father Bambenek said he consulted with the prayer team. “A number of people … had the sense that healing should somehow be involved,” Father Bambenek said.

The fall retreat follows on the heels of another five-week, pre-Synod virtual retreat, “Praying with Scripture.” That archived series, as well as segments of the “Healing and Hope” retreat as they are released, can be found at

The two series complement each other because the first addresses “praying to be closer to God,” and the second recognizes that harms suffered need to be healed or they can get in the way of drawing close to the Lord and hearing how he wants to speak in our lives, Father Bambenek said.

The focus on healing and hope also recognizes that Catholics in the archdiocese have suffered pain because of the clergy sexual abuse scandal, Father Bambenek said. In January 2015, the archdiocese filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the wake of mounting claims of clergy sexual abuse dating back as far as the 1940s. The archdiocese reached a $210 million settlement in 2018 with more than 450 victim-survivors, and it emerged from bankruptcy in December 2018.

“Pretty much everyone has been wounded in some way by the scandal,” directly or indirectly, Father Bambenek said.

While some aspects of the series will address clergy sexual abuse, the broader focus will be on healing from any number of wounds, Father Bambenek said. It is designed to help participants grow in self-awareness by learning more about themselves and the people around them, and through that process become more fully who God wants them to be, he said.

“Hopefully, they will learn how to bring their hurts to our Blessed Mother and to Jesus, and learn about some potential next steps — recognizing that this won’t be the be-all or end-all, but that healing is really a journey until we get to heaven,” he said.


The virtual “Healing and Hope” retreat begins Oct. 18 at Each of the five sessions will feature two speakers and a testimonial from at least one person. Session themes are:

  • Oct. 18 Fundamental identity as a child of God and the body of Christ
  • Oct. 25 Identifying personal wounds: places of darkness; openings for resilience and grace
  • Nov. 1 The wounds of the body of Christ and people’s “bindings or tourniquets,” the knots people allow to be tied
  • Nov. 8 Turning over bindings to Mary, Undoer of Knots, and opening wounds to Jesus
  • Nov. 15 A new narrative in Jesus

After the Oct. 18 premiere, new videos will be posted on the following Sundays. Each week’s video, approximately one hour in length, will also be streamed on the archdiocese’s YouTube channel and Facebook page on Tuesdays at 7 p.m. Participants also can download the MyParish app and search for “Archdiocesan Synod,” or go to to sign up for weekly emails and links to the videos.

Printed materials and other resources also will be accessible via the app, emails and posted on the website, including questions for each talk and a list of additional resources.

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