Fr. Matthew McCarthy presents at a retreat for young adults in Toronto last year. A one-day retreat on April 22, 2023, this year will bring in McCarthy, along with Sr. Rosemary Fry of the Sisters of St. Joseph. Photo courtesy Archdiocese of Toronto vocations office.

Retreat aims to ‘nourish the soul’

  • April 20, 2023

The Sisters of St. Joseph Toronto, the Archdiocese of Toronto’s vocations office and the Office of Catholic Youth have teamed up to help young adults grow in spiritual direction and discernment at a one-day retreat planned for April 22.

This retreat, hosted in the parish hall of St. Peter’s Church on Bathurst Street in the city’s midtown, was organized to help Catholics ages 19-39 learn the meaning of discernment and how to identify the call of the Lord.

Julie Cachia, the vocations animator for the Sisters of St. Joseph, spoke to The Catholic Register a week before the event. She shared what she hoped would be the takeaways from this experience.

“What I hope it will accomplish is that it will be a day that will feed and nourish the soul of young adults,” said Cachia. “We are all seekers in our life, and there are deep desires among the young adults. It is an opportunity for them to pay attention to God’s presence in their life, learn how He is communicating with them and how they can respond and grow more deeply in their relationship with God.”

Fellowship and conversation were to initiate the agenda and was to be followed by presentations about spiritual direction and discernment by Sr. Rosemary Fry, the vocations director for the Sisters of St. Joseph, and Fr. Matthew McCarthy, the director of vocations for the Archdiocese of Toronto.

Catholic liturgy will be woven into the retreat. The 40-45 attendees are scheduled to participate in Mass and spend some time in prayer in front of the Blessed Sacrament.

Fry and McCarthy bring different generational perspectives to the table in their respective presentations. Fry has several decades of spiritual accompaniment experience and wisdom under her belt. Meanwhile, McCarthy, who turned 36 years old this year, will speak to young people largely just five to 10 years younger than himself.

“I’m excited because it wasn’t that long ago that I was in their shoes,” said McCarthy several days before the retreat.” I am interested in hearing the questions that they have, because I had some of the same questions not that long ago. They are fresh on my mind. What I plan on sharing is my own story, my own road and my own experience. There will be a lot of commonalities, things the (retreatants) can relate to because I consider myself to be one of that generation.”

While not divulging too much, McCarthy, who was ordained a priest in 2017, said there are little-known elements to the art of spiritual discernment that he and Fry will share with the attendees.

“There is more to discernment than praying and hoping God gives you an answer,” he said. “There are steps that can be taken and things to watch out for. I find that really piques a lot of people’s interest knowing there is a bit of a scientifically-minded way to go about this.”

McCarthy added that a desire to know God must be in place before any steps can be taken to achieve a greater level of spiritual discernment.

This retreat represents the first collaboration between the Sisters of St. Joseph, the vocations office and the Office of Catholic Youth. Cachia said these entities made ideal partners for this endeavour.

“I think our missions really complement each other when it comes to collaboration and spiritual accompaniment,” said Cachia. “Both Fr. McCarthy and Sr. Rosemary have wonderful insights to share and this retreat also offers a reminder that the real spiritual director is God. Because it is really God who is working through these guides, these tools and these accompaniments.”

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