The U.S. Province of Sulpicians held its biennial retreat May 28 to June 2, 2011 at the Bon Secours Spiritual Center at Mariottsville, Maryland, just outside of Baltimore. The theme of the retreat was “To Put on Christ: Priest, Prophet and King.” Fifty-eight members attended the retreat.
The retreat master was Rev. Robert BARRON, a noted theologian and author from the Archdiocese of Chicago. Father Barron is a former student of the Sulpician seminary of Theological College at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. He is a well-known retreat director and is also recognized for his Internet website, Word on Fire, which provides an outreach and ministry of evangelization over the Internet. He is also engaged in a major film project, “The Catholicism Series,” that will air in the U.S. on public television stations in the fall of this year. It is an attempt to describe in ten episodes the Catholic “story” from a faith perspective.
Key elements of the retreat included reflections on many biblical stories that provide the main foundation for the priesthood, beginning with Adam and culminating in Jesus Christ, the Great High Priest. Father Barron’s presentations were grounded in a sophisticated theology but also were “down to earth,” based upon his twenty-five years of experience as a priest and as a formation director in seminaries.
The Sulpicians from the U.S. Province gather together every other year for a retreat, which is also followed by convocation or study day for the purpose of ongoing formation and community up-building. This year the formation session focused on a new, comprehensive plan for ongoing formation in the U.S. Province. Through small group and large group sessions, members provided the Provincial Council with feedback on a draft document on this topic. It should be noted that the 2008 General Assembly had called for more study of this theme of ongoing formation in all three Sulpician Provinces, but the U.S. is the first to address the topic in such a formal manner.
A highlight of the five-day gathering was the special Eucharist on Wednesday, June 1, to welcome new members and candidates into the Society. Many of them will attend the mois sulpicien in July at Issy-les-Moulineaux, where they will join new Sulpicians from around the world. The Provincial, Thomas R. ULSHAFER, S.S., was principal celebrant and homilist for the Mass. It was followed by a festive banquet at which the major anniversarians of the Province were feted.
During the study day, both the Provincial and the Superior General, Father Ronald D. WITHERUP, who also attended the retreat, gave PowerPoint presentations, respectively, on the state of the Province and the state of the Generalate.