Franciscan Reconciliation Retreat (FRR) is one of the important ministries of Franciscan Conventual Order in India to promote peace and unity through reconciliation among the people of God. Different from other retreats we are trying to impart Franciscan spirit and values to assimilate into the ordinary people’s daily life and situation. We help them to reconcile in every level of Christian life by the application of these Franciscan values. Usually we conduct this Retreat during the Lenten season, at the same time it is done as requested by the parish priests on other occasions.
The director of the FRR visits the parish one month ahead where the FRR is going to be conducted. He gives the guidelines to the parish priest and the parishioners to prepare themselves and gives a leaflet of Franciscan prayers to be recited in the houses of the parish for the success of the Retreat. The team members gather nearby friary and conduct adoration and prayer before they go to the place of Retreat. One of the team members would be continuously spending time in adoration in front of the Eucharist on the days of preaching, the faithful also are welcome to join the friar for adoration. The preaching of the Word of God is being done after the Holy Mass and ends with common adoration for half an hour. The very outcome of the Retreat is generated from this prayer and Eucharistic adoration.
House visiting also is an inevitable feature of FRR. Through this, we can know thoroughly the problems and anxieties of the people. Since house visiting is done before the preaching, we can share the word of God according to the needs of the people as we came to know, where and with whom they have to be reconciled. During these visits, the friars create in them the confidentiality to share anything to them. Thus, after listening their open sharing we involve in settling the problems of the families and neighbors as peacefully as we can. At the end of the visit, the Friar-Priest blesses the house and surroundings.
The preaching of the Word of God starts on either third or fourth day after the house visiting. We deal with the following theme for the preaching:
a) The Eucharist and Liturgical Life
b) Suffering and Hope in Christian Life
c) Sin and Reconciliation
d) Christian Family Life.
Usually the preaching is taking place in the evening after the Holy Mass. The preacher before preaching spends the whole day in prayer and Eucharistic Adoration and fasting for the Divine assistance. He also tries to convey Franciscan values during the preaching since almost all the themes have a Franciscan spirit. The sick people who cannot come every day for the Retreat are taken by vehicle for one-day prayer service on a specific day.
The Sacrament of Confession, which leads to reconciliation, is an important part of FRR. The team prepares the people, makes them aware of their state of life, and leads them to confessional through their house visiting and preaching. The experience shows that most of the people who come to the confessional were returning with the joy of having the experience of a Divine calmness, which is the result of the reconciliation with God, with his fellow men and with oneself.
The FRR is usually concluded with the procession with the Relic of the Cross. The people with lighted candles and carrying the cross go in procession reciting the Way of the Cross, to proclaim their faith in the crucified Lord and as a penance for the sins committed. Returning to the Church, the people would be given a blessing with the Relic followed by the kissing of the same.