CCC (Catechism of the Catholic Church)
There is a lack of moral clarity and at times even gross ignorance among members of the Catholic Church today. Human Life International’s (HLI) affiliate in Goa, India has just held its 55th Catechetical Retreat, in an ongoing attempt to educate the faithful. Started twenty years ago, with just eleven attendees, this is one of just a few pro-life groups preaching the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
Now these events take place two-three times a year. Preached in different retreat centers, the last one numbered 90 persons and was held at a facility run by the Pallottine Fathers in Goa. The age range is broad; since the sessions are baby-friendly, ages run the gamut of young children to adults over fifty. A full third are young, unmarried teens. 60-year-old Glorious, father of four, stated, “I have been to several retreat centers in India but have not come across such teaching anywhere.”
One thing that makes HLI Goa’s retreats special is experience garnered from twenty years of hosting retreats. But additionally, HLI Goa has attended ASPAC, HLI’s Asian international pro-life regional conference, has constant input from HLI and been exposed to Catholic websites, such as Lifesitenews. 46-year-old Beenu John, member of HLI Goa, commented afterwards, “This was the best of the last eight retreats I have attended. We should have special retreats for youth and one for pro-lifers!”
Forty Hour, Five Day Retreat
Rising for morning mass at 6am, prayers follow. Then the participants have breakfast, followed by talks till lunchtime. After lunch is a relaxing sing-song session, then more instruction till 6pm. After dinner, another lecture follows at 7pm and a Holy Hour at 9pm. Inner healing comes for those participating with faith, hope and reverence. As one Capuchin priest put it, “I have never heard such Confessions before!” Those who lost their way receive a sense of healing and conviction that God is a fountain of mercy and forgiveness. Liberata, who is a 35-year-old mother of two sons, said, “I have received such healing from my sinful life. I want to live my life differently. I want more children.”
Healing Helps Marriages
Being open to life is a key to the Sacrament of marriage. Couples who attend learn to understand the Church’s teachings. Abdon, a 54-year-old father of four said, “We have heard nothing like this from the diocesan pre-marital courses.” Small wonder that many marriages are floundering without a proper foundation! Over twenty years of HLI Goa retreats, many marriages have improved and some even saved from dissolution. “I never realized what my husband was missing in our marriage,” said Luena. She is 33 and the mother of one. “The first thing I will do on reaching home is beg for forgiveness from my husband; I want to be the best wife and mother. Thank you for opening my eyes. I want to have more children.”
Feed My Sheep
It is estimated that over the years roughly 3,000 persons have benefited from these retreats. Many become daily communicants. One parish catechist commented, “This is the first time in my life I have understood the Catholic Catechism. I feel bad that our Sunday school students didn’t get anything from us. When we didn’t know ourselves, how could we pass the knowledge on to others?” Biju, a young 28, said, “I am deeply touched by what I heard. And I’ll make sure to attend all pro-life retreats hereafter.” As Pope Benedict XVI once stated, “We must do what we can to allow the light of the faith to shine forth, so that it may be evident that there is a doctrine, there is a faith….”
HLI Affilate representative Milagres Pereira, who also gives some of the retreat talks, contributed to this report.