From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

Deacon will be encouraging parishes to participate in retreat program

by Bonita Lawhead, Inland Register staff

(From the Oct. 25, 2001 edition of the Inland Register)

Deacon Tom Heafey, ordained a little over two years ago, knows the value of making a retreat. Add to that his confessed “passion for the retreat center” and it seems only natural that he would be asked to help Immaculate Heart Retreat Center promote parish retreats. So, even though he already wears many hats, he accepted a volunteer post as parish retreat consultant for IHRC.

Like most everyone these days, Deacon Heafey is extremely busy. He is a health investigator for the state Department of Health (his full-time job); as a deacon he is assigned to St. Joseph Parish in Otis Orchards. He also works in grief and divorce ministry, giving workshops and facilitating support groups. Now he and Deacon John Ruscheinsky, director of IHRC, will be traveling in the diocese once a month to talk about parish retreats.

He and Deacon Ruscheinsky have set a goal of all 80 parishes in the diocese making a retreat. Their objective is to recruit one or two coordinators per parish who will work through the pastor to plan an annual retreat. The coordinators will seek out team captains who will invite individual parishioners to attend.

“It’s a good opportunity for people to come together,” Deacon Heafey said, “and build fellowship and still have time alone with God.” He also believes a parish retreat is “a resource for pastors” because it can enrich and strengthen parishioners in their spiritual journey.

Deacon Heafey sees the retreat center – “I love that place” – as a “refuge from the world. It’s a place where we can talk to God, the ‘holy mountain.’ We need a place to journey to.” He adds that the cost is affordable at $120 for a weekend; the food is good; and there are no phones or television.

“People cannot afford not to make a retreat,” he said. “We owe it to ourselves.” He pointed out that church law requires priests and deacons to make an annual retreat. “There’s a reason for that, he said. “We need it.

“(We have) a need to know God is with us,” a point which was sharply brought home in the nation’s tragedy on Sept. 11, he said. “It makes us realize we haven’t spent enough time with God.”

Spending time with God is time well spent, and Deacon Heafey said retreatants will come to “cherish the memory of their experience at the retreat center and look forward to their next visit.”

(For more information about parish retreats, call your parish or the retreat center: (509) 448-1224.)

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