Monday, April 15, 2019 - Updated: 2:19 pm
The chapel fell silent as nearly 250 women bore their hearts to the Lord during adoration as part of “Into the Heart of Jesus,” the Catholic Women’s Fellowship retreat April 6 at Our Lady of the Sacred Heart High School in Moon Township.
Father Brian Welding, diocesan secretary for clergy and consecrated life, led the sold-out retreat that allowed attendees to deepen their relationship with Jesus through his Sacred Heart. Kate Kelly emceed the event, while Erin Stuvek and Josh and Mary Beth Gawaldo led praise music. The day included a conference by Father Welding, Mass, Eucharistic adoration and fellowship.
Katrina Buchko, Catholic Women’s Fellowship conference operations manager, saw the retreat as a time for women to renew their commitment to the faith and grow in their identity as daughters of God.
“It’s about knowing that we are loved infinitely,” Buchko said. “I hope every person who attends is able to listen to what God wants to say to them and take it to heart.”
In his opening conference, Father Welding said that his devotion to the Sacred Heart began when he was a seminarian and received a pamphlet containing the writings of Sister Mary Martha Chambon on the wounds of Jesus.
“I began to think of those wounds of Jesus as a source of healing,” he said. “That has been pivotal in my life.”
Scripture and prayer developed his devotion to the Sacred Heart. Father Welding cited several Scripture passages that reveal the Father’s tender love for us and the ways that Jesus’ life and death express that love.
To demonstrate this love, Father Welding pointed to Jesus’ 17th-century apparitions to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, during which Jesus revealed his Sacred Heart, culminating centuries of belief. Jesus told her that his heart so loved men that it spared nothing.
“There is nothing that keeps us from the love of Jesus,” Father Welding said. “Don’t ever let the evil one touch you with fear. It is a lie. Jesus is everything, and he has done everything for us. I am convinced of it, and I know you are, too.”
Through his homily at Mass, Father Welding acknowledged that Catholics today may be ridiculed for their faith because of the sins of others.
“This is the time when we must rest in our foundation: our faith in Jesus Christ. Men and women may fail us, but Jesus Christ will never abandon us,” he said.
As a meditation during adoration, Father Welding offered five ways of incorporating devotion to the Sacred Heart into one’s life. These include contemplating the wounds of Jesus, Eucharistic adoration, family enthronement to the Sacred Heart, and practicing first Friday devotions to the Sacred Heart and first Saturday devotions to the Blessed Mother.
This was the first Catholic Women’s Fellowship event that Kelsey Michener of Holy Trinity Parish in Robinson Township attended. She looked forward to reflecting deeper on the Scripture passages that Father Welding cited and appreciated his meditation on the wounds of Jesus.
“During Lent, being able to reflect on these wounds revitalizes my Lenten journey,” she said.
The Catholic Women’s Fellowship conference, “Unshakable,” is set for Nov. 9 at North Catholic High School. For information on CWF, go to www.cwfpitt.org.