September 28, 2011 | The Long Island Catholic Vol. 50, No. 21 | BISHOP WILLIAM MURPHY
Last Saturday, the Religious of the Retreat of the Cenacle invited me to bless their new convent and retreat center and dedicate the beautiful new chapel on the grounds of the Cenacle in Ronkonkoma where they have lived and offered retreats since 1927. Three years ago they began construction to replace their old building with a new modern edifice that is not only strikingly handsome, it is equally ecologically unparalleled.
For the past three years many of the sisters have been living in the convent at St. Anne’s in Brentwood where the pastor, Father Frank Nelson, has welcomed them and offered the services of the parish during this time of construction at their home in Ronkonkoma. The sisters are very grateful to him and to the Parish of St. Anne’s for their hospitality, and I for one thank him and the parish for their goodness to these fine consecrated women.
The liturgy was well prepared and very beautiful with music that invited both congregational participation and personal meditation. It was a joy to bless this new sacred space which will be the heart of the sisters’ house of prayer and a welcoming center for prayer for all those who come there on retreat.Sister Evelyn Jegan, the Provincial, informed me that they have 24 brand new, warm and well furnished rooms for retreatants. She asked me to urge the pastors of our diocese to remind people who have made retreats there before that the sisters are open for business. So come back! And she asked us all to encourage people to discover what an exceptional place they have to receive people who wish to come and pray and, through their prayer and spiritual direction, belong more deeply to the Lord and His Church. I am happy to do so. So to one and all in our diocese, I issue a warm invitation to come and see, to spend time in prayer and reflection, to let the Lord lead you ever more deeply into His love and let the Sisters share their prayer and their lives of commitment with you.
Personally I am very pleased to have the Cenacle open to welcome retreatants. Sister Ann Marino and her staff at Cor Maria in Sag Harbor remain ever ready to welcome people to their beautiful retreat center on the East End. Now the Sisters of the Cenacle return to do the same in Ronkonkoma. What a blessing it is to have these two places of prayer where one can encounter the Lord and be led more deeply into the love of the Lord who calms our fears, solves our problems and pours forth His peace for all who go to these special places of sacred space in our midst.
Let me share with you some of my words at the Mass of blessing and dedication at the Cenacle this past Saturday.
What a beautiful day this is! How extraordinary a gift is laid before us today as we dedicate this new retreat center and convent and bless this chapel where Mass will be celebrated and daily prayer will rise to the Glory of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
This place is your home, and the home for the Cenacle Sisters across America. It is a profoundly important place of retreat and prayer, of spiritual direction and encounter with the Lord for all who come here. It is vitally important — indeed essentially so — for our diocese. We need you. We are grateful for you. And we will never cease praying to God for your good because the flourishing of this retreat center will do more good for the flourishing of our diocese than “anyone of us can ever dream or imagine.”
Thanks be to God that the Religious of the Cenacle are here in this new place to live among us, to pray for all of us and to open a space for all who come here, a sacred space where they can encounter the living God, the loving Father whom the Son every day calls us to worship and in whose Spirit of love we have been baptized and created anew, thanks to the death and resurrection of the Lord, our Brother and Savior.
Cenacle prayer seeks always that great gift of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Congregation and on the world. These dedicated women have seen in Christ Jesus far more than the Samaritan woman was able to see. For they know what Jesus calls us to when He tells us, “The hour is coming and is now here when true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and in Truth.” The truth is the one truth that makes us free; Jesus Christ, Son of God who revealed himself to us as “the way, the truth and the life.” The Spirit is God’s Spirit, that outpouring of creative love that brought the world into being, a world entrusted to us who are the apogee of His creative love. That Spirit calls us to come to the Father through the Son, to open our hearts in prayer, to be transformed into men and women of the Spirit, disciples of Christ, belonging ever more deeply to the triune God.
The Retreat Center of the Cenacle Sisters is inviting you to come and pray, to spend time alone or with others, to make a retreat, to discover God’s love anew. Call them at 631-588-8366 or visit them at 310 Cenacle Road, Ronkonkoma. You won’t regret it. In fact you will join me in thanking them for being one with us.