A hidden invitation to the feast

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By Fr. Jack Treloar, SJ | For The Compass | March 23, 2022

In addition to being one of the most familiar Gospel passages, the story of the loving father from Luke 15:11-32 is a classic of world literature, often appearing in anthologies as an example of a perfect short story.

We all know that the younger son left home and led a life of dissipation. The elder son stayed home and did whatever work was required of him. The father missed the younger son during the time he was away and depended on the elder son to ensure that the estate ran efficiently. Each of us at different times in our lives might identify with one or other of the sons. Sometimes we run astray and must return to our father because our own lives have become a disaster. Sometimes we are dutiful and lead lives of integrity and honesty. So, we are really both children.

The main character of the story, however, is the father who endures the whimsies of both children. The one wants adventure and freedom from the boring life of the estate. The other obeys, but does so grudgingly, performing his tasks from duty rather than love. Despite this, the father continues to love both of them. When the younger son returns, the father’s only response is to get him cleaned up and then have a feast, for the son who was lost has been found, the one who was thought dead is alive. When the older son refuses to come to the feast, the father comes out to listen to the son’s complaint. He responds by pointing out that everything he has belongs to the older son. He urges the older son to rejoice because his brother has come home.

When we put this story in the context of the other two parables that appear in Luke 15 (the lost sheep and the lost coin), we realize that all three of the parables are about God eternally seeking out what is lost. Luke introduces the chapter by saying, “Tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to listen to Jesus, but the Pharisees and scribes began to complain saying that Jesus welcomes sinners and eats with them.” So, Jesus tells them the three parables of the loving father with two sons, the lost coin and the lost sheep.

We can get so caught up in the various details of the story of the loving father that we miss the whole point of the father’s love and actions. He loves both sons. He invites both to the feast even though they come from very different ways of living. If we understand the father as an image for God, embedded in the father’s love for and treatment of his sons, we discover a call to a way of life modeled on God’s own life. The parable presents us with a hidden invitation to be like God who loves all his children. As such, the invitation asks us to put aside all division among ourselves because our adversaries also share God’s unifying love.

Fr. Treloar, an assistant director at Jesuit Retreat House in Oshkosh, has served as a professor, lecturer, author and academic administrator.

Speech can display a good heart

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By Fr. Jack Treloar | For The Compass | February 23, 2022

The use and abuse of speech are major topics in the reading from Sirach and the Gospel passage from Luke. Sirach says, “The fruit of the tree shows the care it has had; so too does one’s speech disclose the bent of one’s mind. Praise no one before he speaks, for it is then that people are tested.” Jesus says in Luke, “A good person out of the store of goodness in his heart produces goodness, but an evil person out of a store of evil produces evil; for from the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks.”

These two admonitions concerning the use and abuse of speech provide an excellent measure concerning the practice of oral communication for our own time.

Both Sirach and Jesus equate destructive speech with wickedness and good speech with moral integrity. In our own experience we know people who rarely say something good about another person or group of people. Their evil speech flows out like a polluted river, or as our authors say “bad fruit from a bad tree.” We also know people who practice congenial speech that tries to build up other people and their efforts.

Perhaps the most glaring abuse of speech comes from the person who makes a career of lying.

Lying is destructive, not only of truth in an abstract sense, but can also devastate other people’s careers, family life and friendships. Jesus says, “from the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks.” Lying puts an evil heart on display in a particularly strong way. The liar will use harassment, insult and all sorts of other hurtful speech. Speech itself becomes a weapon used against another. This kind of speech discloses the evil bent of a person’s mind.

Speech, however, can also display a good heart. The good-hearted person speaks well of others and tells the truth. Sometimes it is embarrassing to speak truth for it takes much more skill to speak truth without injuring another than it is to concoct a lie. The speech of a good person is full of concern for the well-being of others. The good person will use speech to encourage, express sympathy, advocate truth or seek friendship. Like the good tree, as Jesus says, “A good person out of the store of goodness in his heart produces goodness.”

In the Walt Disney movie “Bambi,” there is an early scene shortly after Bambi is born. He is still having trouble standing and walking. All the other animals are present when he tries to take his first steps and fails miserably. A young rabbit, Thumper, says something like, “He doesn’t walk very good, does he?” The mother rabbit reprimands Thumper for these unkind words, saying, “Thumper, what did your father tell you this morning?” Thumper shamefacedly says, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nuthin at all.” Not only from Scripture but from this children’s movie, too, we can all learn a lesson about the appropriate use of speech.

Fr. Treloar, an assistant director at Jesuit Retreat House in Oshkosh, has served as a professor, lecturer, author and academic administrator.

Achieve the peace Jesus gives us

By Fr. Jack Treloar, SJ | For The Compass | May 22, 2022

This week’s Gospel is a short section from the last discourse of Jesus presented in the Gospel according to John. The whole discourse is about three chapters long; John thought Jesus’ teaching was worth giving in detail. In our reading this week from Chapter 14, Jesus says to his disciples, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you” (Jn. 14:27). What is the peace Jesus gives to us? What is the peace the world gives?

We are currently experiencing a terrible conflict in Ukraine. Property is obliterated. People are slaughtered, tortured and displaced. There certainly is no peace in that poor country, but this tragedy shows us how the world gives and takes away peace. Worldly peace is at best an armed truce. This truce can be broken at the whims of a ruler, and many people suffer. Jesus promises that the peace he offers will not be transitory or at the caprice of a few powerful people.

If we want the true peace offered by Jesus, we must look at the wealth of his instructions concerning how we should treat each other. The Gospels are filled with this teaching and many other stories showing his followers how to achieve the peace he gives us. In all of this teaching, we must realize that Jesus’ peace means giving up some of our ego and our rights. It also means that we must look to the welfare of others.

Contemplating the Beatitudes shows us how to live a life of peace in the Lord. For example, Jesus says, “Blessed are the merciful for they shall be shown mercy” (Mt. 5:7). Pope Francis says in “On the Call to Holiness in Today’s World” that “Mercy has two aspects. It involves giving, helping and serving others, but it also includes forgiveness and understanding” (par. 80). If we are merciful toward the people in our lives, we impart to them the peace that Jesus gives to all his disciples. Mercy of its very nature means we look out for the good of others. In this caring, we also move away from exaggerated self-interest and concern for our rights.

In the parable of the Good Samaritan, we see the beatitude regarding mercy revealed by means of a story that captures giving up self-interest and caring for another person. The Samaritan was the only one who stopped to care for the victim of the robbery. By his actions, he had to forgive people who treated Samaritans as outcasts. He had to adjust his understanding to the primary need of a person who was almost dead.

These two brief examples show us how to move away from the notion of peace as armed truce and approach it as an authentic gift from Jesus that never disappears once we share it with others.

Fr. Treloar, an assistant director at Jesuit Retreat House, Oshkosh, has served as a professor, lecturer, author and academic administrator.

A journey from disbelief to belief

By Fr. Jack Treloar, SJ | For The Compass | April 20, 2022

The Gospel for the second Sunday of Easter tells how Jesus encountered doubting Thomas. The other disciples told Thomas that they had seen the risen Lord. Thomas’ reaction is disbelief and challenge. It is very easy for us to take a superior attitude toward Thomas’ doubts because we already believe in Jesus’ resurrection. Is such an attitude justified? Perhaps such an approach to this Scripture episode pays attention only to the surface meaning of the passage.

Even though it is true that Thomas doubted what the others told him about Jesus being risen, the story itself is not so much about doubt as it is of a journey from disbelief to belief. Each believing person makes a similar journey and continues to grow in belief so that our final response will be the same as Thomas’, “My Lord and my God.” (Jn 20:28).

Looking at the process that brings Thomas to belief, one sees that initially he was separated from the group. Because of this disconnection he alone did not experience the manifestation of Jesus to the others on Easter. If we try to put ourselves in Thomas’ position during the intervening eight days, we see a whole series of temptations to unbelief. “Jesus doesn’t love me.” “The others are experiencing hallucinations.” “If Jesus were truly risen, he would have waited until I was with the others.” “This resurrection stuff has to be tested by seeing Jesus’ wounds.”

When Jesus does appear to the whole group once again, including Thomas, he answers each of the challenges. He loves Thomas as much as the others. His presence is not a mere hallucination. He shows the wounds in his hands and side. The Resurrection is indeed true. Thomas makes the journey from disbelief to belief.

An evident aspect of the Resurrection comes to light in this encounter between Jesus and Thomas. We come to know and believe the Resurrection in a community context. With the exception of the appearance to Mary Magdalene and a reference to an appearance to Peter, all other Resurrection appearances occur in a group context. Sometimes the group is very small, such as the two disciples on the way to Emmaus. Sometimes the appearance is to the Twelve. Sometimes it is to a larger group of disciples such as when Jesus appeared to 500 at once. Jesus had spent his life forming groups of disciples. Manifestations of the Resurrection rightly occur within those communities. The Resurrection, then, is not originally a Jesus and me event, rather it is Jesus and us.

At the Last Supper, Jesus prayed “That they may be one. . .” (Jn. 17:21). The common belief in the Resurrection unites all Christians in the risen Christ. For all our Christian differences we are united with all other believers who confess with Thomas, “My Lord and my God.” We are one in the Resurrection, and we accept the words of the Lord, “Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed” (Jn. 20:29).

Fr. Treloar, an assistant director at Jesuit Retreat House in Oshkosh, has served as a professor, lecturer, author and academic administrator.

What does it mean to love as God loves?

By Fr. Jack Treloar, SJ / For The Compass / January 26, 2022

When Jesus, in the synagogue of Nazareth, talks about the widow in Zarephath in the land of Sidon and Naaman the Syrian, he provokes a terrible response from the people. To understand this reaction, we must recall that the Jewish people knew they were a chosen people.

For Jesus to point out that the widow and Naaman, who were not Jewish, received special gifts from God when other widows and lepers from Israel did not receive such gifts, he seems to be rejecting their deep belief that they are chosen people. Is it conceivable for them to continue to be the chosen people and yet be sufficiently open to the possibility that non-Jews can also fall under God’s love? Jesus shows them that God cares for all those in need, not just a chosen few.

In the second reading, Paul gives us an extended lesson in the many characteristics of love. If love can be between two people and manifest the characteristics listed by Paul then love in its most exquisite sense also applies to God and is love for his people — not only the chosen, but all human beings. Just as the Jewish people are grasped by God’s love, so the widow and Naaman fall into God’s all-embracing love. Jesus is teaching his listeners that their concepts do not truly reflect God’s love.

What does it mean to love as God loves?

Paul says, in part, “Love is patient. Love is kind. It is not jealous. It is not pompous. It is not inflated. It is not rude. It does not seek its own interests. It is not quick-tempered. It does not brood over injury.” Paul lists many other characteristics of love in a vision of a God who loves totally and completely.

Even though Jesus does not use this poetic Pauline language, he is trying to show the people in the synagogue that they must learn a new way to love. Rather than being offended by God’s choice to love the widow and Naaman, they should rejoice that God took care of people in dire need. Such rejoicing opens up a new image of God. God is not an exclusive possession of a single people; rather, God cares for all people.

All four Gospels constantly call true believers to have open hearts for those in need.

Jesus calls people to a discipleship that imitates his own way of proceeding, including all people who need help. He opens his heart to the Canaanite woman and her sick daughter. He cures the centurion’s slave. He feeds the hungry without asking if they are Jews or Gentiles. He cures Samaritan lepers.

His discourse in the synagogue as given in the Gospel opens a whole new vision of a God who loves without distinction of Jew or Gentile. This is a God with a heart large enough to encompass all human beings.

Fr. Treloar, an assistant director at Jesuit Retreat House in Oshkosh, has served as a professor, lecturer, author and academic administrator.

Traditional and new ways to share Christ

The Shrine of the Sacred Heart on a winter day at Jesuit Retreat House on Lake Winnebago
near Oshkosh. Jesuit Retreat House opened in 1961.

Jesuit Retreat House: We learned ‘not just to survive, but to thrive’

By Jeff Kurowski / The Compass / February 18, 2022

OSHKOSH — Jesuit Fr. Mark Carr, executive director at Jesuit Retreat House on Lake Winnebago, fondly recalls a message on a comment sheet from a fall 2021 retreatant. The
individual wrote, “Thank you for being open. You have no idea how much I needed this.”

Those words and other positive responses served as affirmation for the work the staff has been doing to serve the faithful throughout the COVID pandemic.

“People are just so grateful to be able to get out of their little bubble at home and come to a
different bubble,” said Fr. Carr. “For a lot of the people, they’ve been going to church virtually. Just to be back in a different environment, in their ‘second home’ for those who return here, in a faith environment, it’s been a real blessing.”

When most of the country shut down in the middle of March 2020, so did Jesuit Retreat
House. Eight retreats were canceled before the reopening in May of 2020 for the summer
schedule.

“We had never done anything online before or electronically, but I had begun to create weekly meditations based on the Sunday Gospels during Lent,” said Notre Dame Sr. Susan
Kusz, who serves as associate director at Jesuit Retreat House. “We shared those online
through our Facebook platform as well as through Constant Contact messages to all those people who correspond with us or had made retreats at Jesuit Retreat House.”

The success of the online offerings led to creation of a night prayer that was also shared
electronically.

“I would come and record these during the day, outdoors in our woods, at various hallowed places on our grounds like the gazebo, at the cross and at various points at the lake.
Sometimes I would come back at night to record it with sound and video as the sun was setting on Lake Winnebago. We even have one where you can hear the lake flies buzzing,” she said.

To further serve summer retreatants who chose a virtual experience, Sr. Susan created a
healing reflection while Jesuit Fr. Jack Treloar, assistant director and a Scripture
columnist for The Compass, created a reconciliation guided meditation.

“Ordinarily, when people come in person during a weekend or for a week of retreat, we offer
the sacrament of anointing and the sacrament of reconciliation. So the virtual people would not (entirely) miss this experience, we offered them the recorded versions of the guided meditations,” she said.

A shoreline view of Lake Winnebago from the grounds of Jesuit Retreat House.

The choice to make retreats in person or virtually continued at Jesuit Retreat House throughout the summer of 2020. The comments from the virtual participants were positive, said Sr. Susan.

“Nothing equals a face-to-face retreat, but I think we all learned how to function, not to just survive, but to thrive,” she said.

Beginning in September 2020 through May 2021, Jesuit Retreat House offered on-site
weekend retreats with reduced capacity. The maximum number of retreatants during this time was 44.

“In order to meet social distancing guidelines, if we exceeded 20 (retreatants), we had to cut
the group in half,” said Sr. Susan, now in her seventh year at Jesuit Retreat House.

“The biggest challenge for these double groups in the fall retreats, from the comments, was that the retreatants in group one never saw the retreatants assigned to group two. The biggest grace was that many found the silence of the retreat was definitely well-preserved. Many people remarked about how quiet the experience was because you don’t have so many people moving at once,” she said.

To accommodate a two-group format, the number of talks or conferences for a weekend retreat was reduced from 11 to six, each given twice.

“There was a lot of positive feedback,” said Fr. Carr. “People said that they like some of the
more unstructured times to pray and reflect on their own. We are not going back to 11 talks.
Since September (2021), we’ve had eight talks.”

“The preachers like that too,” said Sr. Susan with a laugh. “It’s a recognition that the talks
aren’t necessarily the primary part of the retreat. They are ‘primers’ for that retreat that’s going on in prayer between the retreatant and God.”

In September 2021, Jesuit Retreat House made the decision to allow for full capacity. Masks
are currently required.

Jesuit Retreat House averaged two-thirds capacity (60) from September to December 2021. In January 2020, the average was 30 people per retreat.

The Chapel of the Annunciation at the Jesuit Retreat House on Lake Winnebago near Oshkosh.

“We really don’t have any social distancing guidelines,” said Fr. Carr. “When they arrive,
we do ask for their vaccination status, but we don’t require proof of vaccination.”

“For me, what’s most disappointing about lower attendance is the people who come here
have such a great experience,” said Fr. Carr. “We have room. There could have been 20 more people here to share in that great experience of Jesus Christ.”

Almost 25% of the retreatants were first-timers, he added.

“A number were younger people. Some of it may have been the spiritual journey that COVID
took people on. They needed to get out of their bubble a little bit,” said Fr. Carr.

The majority of retreatants at Jesuit Retreat House are from the Diocese of Green Bay
and Archdiocese of Milwaukee. During the fall, winter and spring months, the draw is more regional, including the other Wisconsin dioceses as well as retreatants from Minnesota, Illinois, Iowa and Michigan. In the summer, the retreat house draws more people nationally, said Fr. Carr.

“Our main goal is to share Christ with as many people as possible,” he said.

Fr. Carr began his position as executive director in June 2021 in the middle of the pandemic.

Like a lot of organizations, we’ve been impacted by COVID, but we move forward preaching Christ through the exercise, and we always do that in a way that ensures a safe and healthy
environment for people.

“I think we have a great ministry. We always look forward to welcoming people here, whether they are returning or if they are new people,” he added. “It’s a great place to be. For the newbies, once people get here, they wish they would have come sooner.”

For more information about Jesuit Retreat House, including the retreat schedule, visit
jesuitretreathouse.org. Preached weekend retreats are offered September through
May. Directed five- and eight-day retreats are offered during the summer.

Confidence in the goodness of God

By Fr. Jack Treloar, SJ | For The Compass
November 3, 2021

In a recent column, I spoke about the rich man who could not give up his many possessions to follow Jesus. This week’s Gospel reading also talks about our relationship to material goods. Once again there are rich people. They donate to the Temple some of their surplus wealth as a display of generosity so that others will praise them. These gifts, however, do not really come from devotion to the Lord. Jesus understands and comments on the hypocrisy. He contrasts these hypocrites with the poor widow who gives up everything for the Lord.

We can almost hear the loud thuds as the rich people drop their donations in the temple treasury. When the widow approaches with her gift, there is barely a sound as the two small coins fall into the donation box. Jesus hears this tinkle and praises the widow for her generous gift. He notes that generosity is not merely a matter of quantity, but rather the spirit with which the gift is given. The widow has shown love of God by giving all that she has. She earns Jesus’ praise.

There is, however, much more to this event than mere generosity. The gift tells us about the widow’s great love of God. In the earliest times the Jewish people were told in Deuteronomy to take care of widows, orphans and strangers. The first reading from 1 Kings tells of Elijah’s encounter with another poor widow and the way God took care of that widow, her son and Elijah until the drought afflicting the land was over. The widow of Zarephath and the widow in the Gospel know that God cares for those in need. They live with confidence in the goodness of God.

The Old Testament tells us many times that God is faithful to his promises. Both widows have interiorized this great thought. They understand the underlying significance of being part of the chosen people. The Gospel widow knows all the stories of God taking care of women like Sarah, Ruth and Esther. Each found themselves in difficulties and depended on God to help them because they were part of his chosen race. Because the Gospel widow believes in the underlying truth manifested in the stories of her tradition, she can give herself over to a loving God who will protect her.

Often it is the neediest who show us the significance of generosity. Lack of material goods can teach us that wealth is something to be shared; such actions provide an opportunity to depend on God in special ways. One of the most difficult lessons for wealthy people to learn is that what we possess is bestowed on us to share with the needy so that we might depend on God’s goodness more fully. When we give our two coins, we tell God that we trust and depend on his fidelity.

Fr. Treloar, an assistant director at Jesuit Retreat House, Oshkosh, has served as a professor, lecturer, author and academic administrator.

Jesuit says brotherhood is ‘about finding God in all things’

By Sam Lucero | The Compass
November 8, 2021

Br. Lee Colombino says Jesuit formation allowed him to discern life as brother

OSHKOSH — As a member of the Society of Jesus religious order (the Jesuits), Br. Lee Colombino’s vocation focuses on one of the precepts introduced by his order’s founder, St. Ignatius of Loyola.

Jesuit Br. Lee Colombino holds up an icon depicting St. Francis of Assisi, one of two icons he recently completed. Br. Lee is one of five Jesuits, and the only religious brother, serving at Jesuit Retreat House in Oshkosh. When considering a vocation, Br. Lee suggests that young adults consider, “What is your heart telling you and where is it calling you in terms of your spiritual life?” (Sam Lucero | The Compass)

“I love the life of a Jesuit brother and, for me, it’s about finding God in all things, or the sense of sacramental awareness,” said Br. Lee, who serves as a spiritual director at Jesuit Retreat House. “So it’s more about the ordinary experiences — how does God’s creative action unfold in our lives and being present to that. It’s beautiful to watch unfold.”

While his ministry focuses on spiritual direction, Br. Lee is an accomplished artist. He taught in the Fine Arts Department at Loyola Academy, a Jesuit high school in Wilmette, Ill., for four years prior to earning a master’s degree in spirituality with a focus on spiritual direction from Loyola University in Chicago. He was then “missioned” to Jesuit Retreat House in July 2020.

After arriving in Oshkosh, he set up an art studio/gallery in the lower level of the St. Ignatius Chapel building. Here he spends time exploring the relationship between his spiritual life and his life as an artist.

A native of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Br. Lee first learned about the Jesuits while he was an undergraduate at the University of Michigan.

“I got involved with a liberation theology reading group and that was in the late ’80s,” he said. “While I was part of this group, we were reading Jesuit authors. That’s what kind of piqued my interest in the society, but it really was Ignatian spirituality which got me.”

After completing his undergraduate degree in cultural anthropology in 1991, Br. Lee moved to Chicago, where he first met members of the Jesuit order. He took a course at Catholic Theological Union taught by Jesuit Fr. Ted Ross and spent one year volunteering with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps in Kentucky.

When he entered the order in 1998, he was sent to Fordham University in New York City to study philosophy. “It was there when my superior at the time said, ‘Lee, you need to get out of your head. Have you ever thought of taking an art class?’ I was like, ‘I’ve always wanted to do pottery.’ So that’s actually when I first got started.”

While creating art on a pottery wheel, he uncovered other life lessons.

“There is a very rich confluence between the life of the spirit and the life of art. Even before you start throwing on the wheel, the clay needs to be centered,” he said. “Otherwise, if it’s not centered at the get-go, it will be off-kilter all the way through. 

“So, like the spiritual life, how am I centered and how am I not being centered? How does that affect the shape I take? That was like the further hook, if you will, for art and spirituality for me, those sort of life lessons,” he said.

Br. Lee said the retreat house does not offer programs related to art. “It’s a hope I have for the future,” he said. “We need to figure out what it would look like. How it would happen because, in terms of what we do here now, we have weekend retreats in the fall, winter and spring months and then summer months we are in our directed retreats. We have a packed program going on already.”

His life as a brother gives Br. Lee opportunities to share the story of his vocation and to promote religious vocations.

“It’s interesting because, in terms of a brother, oftentimes people are like, ‘Oh, I didn’t realize there were Jesuit brothers,’” he said. “We are such a priestly order, it’s like, ‘No, we exist.’ Everybody knows what a priest does, they have a  definite idea of what a priest is supposed to do. So there is more of an opportunity to have a conversation of discovery” about brotherhood.

Formation in the Jesuit religious order can last more than 15 years and encompasses five stages:

  • Novitiate: A two-year period where men get to learn about the community and Ignaitan spirituality. At the completion they take vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.
  • First studies: During these three years, the Jesuit studies philosophy and theology while serving in the community.
  • Regency: This three-year period focuses on active ministry.
  • Theology studies: This three-year period is the final step before priestly ordination or continuing formation as a brother.
  • Tertianship: A five-year period in which the priest or brother reflects on his formation. He then professes a fourth and final vow: to serve the pope and the Society of Jesus.

“When you take vows in the society, you take vows as either a scholastic or a brother,” he said. “Scholastics are the ones who go on to become priests.”

Br. Lee said he considered the scholastic path during his novice years.

“It was the sacrament of reconciliation that was really drawing me to the priesthood,” he said. “One of the really beautiful things about Ignatian and Jesuit formation is that it’s so long. So I thought, ‘Well, since it is so long, I have time to just grow into the rest.’ Well, as I am going along, it was becoming apparent, ‘Yeah, I don’t think I’m going to be growing into the rest, or I’m not going to grow into it very well.’ That’s where it became a time of really good discernment.” 

During theology studies, Br. Lee discerned that he was called to religious life as a brother. “So if I remained (on the priesthood track), the art stuff would not have happened,” he said.

Br. Lee’s message to young people today about discerning a vocation is found in a question: ”What’s going on in your heart?”

“This is what I love in terms of Ignatian spirituality — the principal foundation from the spiritual exercise: we are all created to love, reverence, serve God and praise God,” he said. “And we have these gifts that we ought to develop for God’s greater glory. So I think that’s more my take, and it might be my ‘brother’ take on it — whether they become a religious or not. What are your God-given gifts and how are you developing them?

Having worked with high school students at Loyola Academy, he knows that young adults are encouraged to pursue material success and not explore other paths to fulfillment.

“We are becoming much more utilitarian in our thought process and that’s a great sadness for me,” he said. “I’m an old school, liberal arts type guy. So I think, ‘Where is your passion, what brings you joy and how are you developing that?’ There’s sadness for me how that change has happened, in terms of how education is more about getting a job now than learning and becoming a well-rounded human being and learning different perspectives.”

The same goes for discerning a vocation, he said.

“Within that question, ‘What is your heart telling you and where is it calling you in terms of your spiritual life?’ It’s tough and not just for kids,” said Br. Lee.

Moderate your cravings for things

By Fr. Jack Treloar, SJ | For The Compass
October 6, 2021

When we read the story of Jesus’ encounter with the rich man with many possessions, we understand the temptation to gather more and more material goods at the expense of denying a greater value. We also understand the sadness of Jesus when we allow things to get in the way of our discipleship. The man already obeys all the commandments, but Jesus offers him a deeper, holier way of living, and we experience distress at his inability to take the necessary steps for discipleship.

The Gospel story gives us an opportunity to reflect on our own relationship to the material goods in our lives. Among Jesuits, accumulation of many things is referred to as “impedimenta,” that is, a burden carried around wherever we go. We usually experience this burden when we receive a new apostolic assignment and must pick those things we will take with us to our new mission. We are often in the position of the rich man; we are sad because we have many possessions. The new job gives us an opportunity to simplify our lives and only take necessary things. If one moves to a warmer climate, one does not need a heavy winter coat. The temptation might be to keep that coat just in case of a later assignment in a colder climate.

Our contemporary American culture encourages collecting material things. The local mall owes its existence to selling more and more objects to its patrons even though those objects might be luxuries, whims of the moment or cute trinkets. The same can be said of online shopping. It might be a good practice as we wander a mall or shop online and see all those attractive goods to ask ourselves, “Do I need this?”

Jesus is not sad concerning the riches of the young man. Jesus is sad because the man allows his material possessions to rule his life. He offers a way of life that transcends wealth. He proposes the means for the man to rule his possessions rather than allowing the possessions to rule him. To follow Jesus, the disciple must try as much as possible to imitate Jesus’ own life of freedom over physical objects.

Finally, one must realize that Jesus continued to love the young man even though he could not give up his many possessions. He obeyed the commandments. He had the good desire to enhance his relationship to God. This encounter allows Jesus to comment on the difficulty for entering the kingdom of God that wealth presents to virtuous people. His disciples experience agony over this situation claiming no one can be saved. Jesus tells them we do not need to think that by our own efforts we can overcome the temptations presented by wealth.

God shows us how to moderate our cravings for things. All we need is a desire to work according to God’s call as we live our day to day lives.

Fr. Treloar, an assistant director at Jesuit Retreat House, Oshkosh, has served as a professor, lecturer, author and academic administrator.

New faces greet guests at Oshkosh’s Jesuit Retreat House

By Sam Lucero | The Compass
October 5, 2021

OSHKOSH — Just as parishes are welcoming people back to church this fall, the Jesuit Retreat House is opening its doors to new and returning retreatants. There to greet guests are two new faces, Jesuit Frs. Mark Carr and Jim Shea. 

Fr. Carr succeeds Jesuit Fr. Chris Manahan, who served as retreat house director for seven years. Fr. Carr began his new role on June 22. Fr. Shea serves as a retreat team member and also arrived in June.

With the addition of the two priests, the retreat house now has five Jesuits living in community in Oshkosh. The others include Fr. Jack Treloar, Fr. Eugene Donahue and Br. Lee Colombino.

“We have a beautiful place here,” Fr. Carr told The Compass Sept. 29. “We have a wonderful team and we really do operate as a team.”

Ordained in Milwaukee in 2005, Fr. Carr, who was born and raised in Wheaton, Ill., said his main work since ordination has been in secondary education and campus ministry.

In his brief time in Oshkosh, Fr. Carr said he has come to understand, from their comments, the love people have for Jesuit Retreat House.

“So, every Thursday afternoon, September through May, a new group of retreatants arrives here,” he said. “They pull up and walk into the lobby and pretty much everyone says, ‘I’m so glad to be here. I’m looking forward to the silence,’ or ‘I’m looking forward to reconnecting with God.’”

These comments, he said, “are a helpful, sometimes needed reminder, to never take the JRH for granted. It’s a special place.” 

Like all other institutions and businesses serving the public, Jesuit Retreat House was forced to close in early 2020 due to the pandemic. From mid-March 2020 to mid-June 2020, no retreats were offered. It reopened its doors in September 2020 for preached weekend retreats. However, strict COVID regulations were put into place. 

Fr. Carr said the facility operated at reduced capacity and split retreatants into two groups to allow for social distancing. It meant that retreat directors would give the same talks twice and back-to-back Masses were celebrated. There was also an option to participate virtually via the internet.

“In late June, we went back to whole group gatherings, so one Mass for each retreat group and one seating at each meal,” he said. “In July, we had maybe a three-week period where we were maskless, before the Delta variant, and we started opening up some retreats to full capacity. 

“So right now, we have whole group gatherings through the end of the year,” said Fr. Carr. “Retreats are open to full capacity and we have private bedrooms for 60 people. Right now, we are masked during retreats and we are asking people to share vaccination status when they arrive. Right now, we are 97% vaccinated in terms of our guests who come here. I think that’s a safe environment for people to come to for retreat.”

Fr. Shea, who was ordained in 2015, said his last assignment was in Chicago, working at Cristo Rey Jesuit High School.

As part of his Jesuit formation, called “tertianship,” he spent one semester last year at Jesuit Retreat Center in Parma, Ohio. “It was like a preparation for coming here,” he said.

According to Fr. Shea, he enjoys the reconciliation services offered at the retreat house.

“People often come looking for some reconciliation, whether between themselves and God or other people, or simply within themselves, to be at peace with themselves,” he said. “The moments when they find that, whether it’s in the reconciliation service or in the sacrament of confession, that’s very satisfying. I get to be a part of that and it really doesn’t have much to do with me at all. It’s really between them and the Lord.”

The opportunity to encounter the Lord is what makes Jesuit Retreat House a special place, said Fr. Shea.

“I remember one retreatant was here and he wanted to talk to me and we were by the lake. He said, ‘Let’s just sit down here for a minute.’ He closed his eyes and he began to listen. Soon, all you heard was the sound of the waves, the sound of the water. 

“It was a new experience for me, maybe because I’m a city kid and I don’t stop and listen much,” added Fr. Shea. “That’s why this is a special place, because people come here just to be able to have an experience that they generally don’t have in their ordinary, everyday life. I think that’s true for me, too. That’s why it’s such a gift for me to be able to work here.”

This year, the Jesuits are celebrating a special Ignatian year, from May 2021 to July 2022. The year celebrates the 500th anniversary of the conversion of the religious order’s founder, St. Ignatius of Loyola.

“One thing the retreat house is doing to mark (the anniversary) is offering another form of the spiritual exercises to people,” said Fr. Carr. “It’s a series of eight Thursdays … called ‘Meeting Christ in Prayer.’ It’s the first time, at least in recent years, that the retreat house has done this.”

While about 75% of those who visit Jesuit Retreat House are repeat retreatants, Fr. Carr welcomes those who have never been to the retreat house located on the shores of Lake Winnebago.

“JRH seems to be a little local gem in the diocese that a lot of people don’t know about,” he said. “It’s a wonderful place to pray, to grow in one’s faith and we are open. We have beautiful and comfortable grounds and facilities for people. We welcome folks here to grow in their faith life.”

To learn more about the retreats offered at Jesuit Retreat House or for more information visit jesuitretreathouse.org or call (920)231-9060.