Afterward, I continued to wander this huge place. I came to what later I would know as the conference room. There was a stunning crucifix and I began to cry as I stood before it. I felt God with me, and I thought I want a picture of this, so I returned to my room and got my camera. I took several photos of the art on the walls, including this crucifix.
Then I returned to my room and one of the girls again came to tell me lunch was ready. I was fortunate to sit in the seat Padre Jozo had the night before, and the two Italian guys sat across from me! Victorio and Bernard were their names, and they spoke Italian and French. I could speak a tiny bit of each and it was fun trying to communicate with them! We laughed a lot!
After eating, I again returned to my room and spent some time writing in my journal. In one hour, at 4:00 p.m., the retreat was to officially begin. I still felt peacefulness within my heart. I thanked God for this gift of calm.
All the participants had not arrived yet, and I went to the main hallway in anticipation of their arrival. It was at this time that I ran into Padre Jozo alone. He was in the conference room, and I took this opportunity to give him a rosary that had been hand-made for him by a dear friend at home. As I put it in his hand, quietly he said,"Thank you".
At 3:45 p.m. there were still some who had not arrived yet, and those that had were being taken to their rooms. The start of the retreat was moved back to 4:30.
A wonderful priest from Ireland, Fr. Michael, was there and he celebrated the opening Mass. For the first time, our group was all gathered in the chapel. There were 50 of us from all over the world.
Father Michael said Mass and his homily focused on the seed falling on fertile soil, and with the nature of this retreat, we should bloom! At communion the tears fell abundantly as Christ entered me and touched my soul with His unfathomable mercy, grace and love.
Following Mass we went to the large dining room where we would have all our meals. When Padre Jozo entered the room we all rose. He went around the room and shook each person's hand saying, "Welcome!". There was an empty seat at my table. I was at the head seat and the seat at the opposite end was vacant. Guess who sat at my table? ---- Padre Jozo!!!
This time we really broke the bread together! I spent so much time just staring at him. I thanked God for this grace. Conversation was difficult as he does not speak much English at all, but just to meet his eyes with mine was a treasure. When his secretary arrived he changed tables to speak with her. I was so happy he ate with us.
After dinner we all went to the conference room and Nancy Latta, Padre Jozo's translator, arrived. After we all assembled, Padre Jozo handed each of us a prayer. This prayer was said at the beginning of each time we gathered. It was written by him and it is my pleasure to share this with each of you:
(End of Part 6)