Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Annual Retreat a HIT for Council Vincentians!

Serving God is a calling like no other!

Close to 100 'Vincentian' volunteers from the counties of Los Angeles, Santa Barbara and Ventura exhibited this faith last Saturday when they attended the Los Angeles Council's Annual Retreat at Old Mission Santa Barbara.

The retreat included mass, communion, songs of praise, sessions centered on the Vincentian's outreach to the poor, lunch and more.

Father Pedro Villarroya, C.M., Council spiritual advisor, spoke on two topics: Spirituality Tools to Prevent Burnout (and) Walking With the Poor in Jesus, helping to remind those in attendance about the importance of their outreach and the impact they have with others less fortunate.

"It was a great event. Very inspirational!," said Vincentian Terry Hernandez, co-chair of the Council's Spirituality Committee which organized the retreat. "We are fortunate to have someone with Father Pedro's background. He is an excellent speaker. He captured everybody's attention."

Father Pedro recently celebrated his 50th year as a priest.

Hernandez, who has been a Vincentian for more than 30 years, stated that it's not easy being a Vincentian, as those they help are not always grateful.

"Over the years, I've seen people get burned out. It's discouraging because these are good people. One of the reasons for burnout is that they feel their outreach is not appreciated," he said, indicating that he has seen when Vincentians have taken time at the end of a long day to help an individual with food, only to see that food thrown on the ground minutes later. "Despite what happens, we have to remember that we are doing this for the Lord."

Hernandez mentioned that one of the things he took away from the retreat was that

"If we can't love each other, we can't love the poor. Some people will get angry and disagree, but we need to love each other and remember why we're here. We have to see the face of Christ in our fellow Conference members if we are to see the face of Christ in the poor."

The Council of L.A. is blessed to have more than 2,000 Vincentians from all walks of life who donate their time and talents throughout the year to help improve the quality of life for children, women and men.

Vincentian Ed Kunkler summed up Father Pedro's words by saying, "Though I've heard some of it before, we need to recognize the dignity of the individuals we help. It is a good reminder, as it helps keep us on the proper course."

Following the retreat, most of the attendees toured Old Mission Santa Barbara and were educated on the history of the missions.

Photos: Top photo shows a group shot of the Council Vincentians, while the bottom photo shows Father Pedro Villarroya, C.M., conducting a session.

* NOTE - Photos courtesy of Robert Cruz, president of the Society's St. Anthony Conference in Oxnard.

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