A first-of-its-kind retreat for young adults explored Precious Blood spirituality in a modern world, led from several points of view.
The retreat, held at Bergamo retreat center in Beavercreek, was inspired by both the Italian Province’s efforts at evangelizing younger generations, and by the format of Precious Blood Parish Missions here in the U.S.
Among the organizers and presenters were C.PP.S. Frs. Steve Dos Santos, Kevin Scalf, James Smith and Vince Wirtner; Jenna Legg, vocation ministry coordinator for the CPPS sisters of Dayton; and Sr. Karen Elliott, CPPS. Fr. Jeff Kirch, C.PP.S., the provincial director, presided and preached at the Sunday homily.
Presenters spoke on the themes of covenant (Sr. Joyce Ann Zimmerman, CPPS), cross (Fr. Dos Santos), reconciliation (Fr. Smith) and cup (Jenna Legg), in a format borrowed from Precious Blood Parish Missions. Eleven young adults participated, not all of them from the U.S.
“This was an interesting group because all of them had some connection with the Precious Blood community,” said Fr. Wirtner. “There were discerners from the CPPS sisters and from our Community, as well as some Fr. Steve had invited from Wright State University. I think the content we offered was more easily accepted and processed because of that connection. I think they were more intrigued and interested because they already had some knowledge of the Precious Blood family.”
The variety of voices in the presenters also worked, he added. “I always admired Dennis (Fr. Dennis Chriszt, C.PP.S., founder of Precious Blood Parish Missions) for his gathering of many voices in those retreats, lay and religious. I think that model is attractive to young adults, because they may be able to identify their own path from the people who are presenting. Some were identifying with Jenna, some with James, and some with other presenters.”
Legg said that the retreat was carefully planned. “We wanted to provide them with an in-person retreat that gave them time for prayer—with the pandemic, we had time to slow down, but not always time away. It was also important to give them good content, good things to reflect upon. And obviously, we have a gem in Precious Blood charism and spirituality.”
As a young adult and young mother herself, Legg said she appreciated the time to focus on her spiritual life. “I hadn’t gone on a retreat in a long time, so for me it was great,” she said. “Obviously, it’s different when you are a part of the team. But I hadn’t heard the talks ahead of time—it was nice for me to go a little deeper into Precious Blood spirituality, to hear it examined through a different lens. It was nice to be able to focus—I have little kids so going to Mass with them is not always about me learning or growing! The retreat gave me time to focus. It was a good break from everyday life, and offered a good balance of presentations/education, fellowship and free time.”