On the evening of Sunday, the 17th of February, the normally boisterous halls of the St. Mary’s College men’s dorm took on a more solemn atmosphere as 17 men quietly filed into the McCabe theater for the first conference of their Marian retreat. This was the first of 20 conferences given by Fr. Robinson, a visiting Seminary professor from Australia, who generously gave a week of his time to run the retreat.
The men and womens’ retreats are an annual occurrence at the college, alternating yearly between Marian and Ignatian, usually occurring during or before lent to better focus the retreatants’ intentions. This year, the men gave their all in an intense Marian retreat, which consisted of 5 days of prayer and meditations, including 20 conferences, each followed by a meditation; daily Mass; daily recitation of the 15 decades of the rosary; and ended each day with Benediction, a holy hour, and Vespers. Fr. Robinson and Fr. Torzala, the theology teacher of the college, were available every day for consultations, advice, and confessions for the men. From the start of the retreat on Sunday evening to the end on Friday afternoon, a strict silence kept them completely reserved and focused. During the meals, “The Death Camp Proved Him Real,” the life of St. Maximilian Kolbe, one of the greatest advocates for devotion to Our Lady, gave all the men an excellent example of how love of Our Lady necessarily leads to a conversion of life and love of fellow man.
The conferences of the retreat itself were centered on the material contained in “True Devotion to Mary” by St. Louis de Montfort, a detailed book on attaining holiness through devotion to the Blessed Virgin. This gave the men the perfect opportunity to start their 33-day preparation for the Complete Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
On Friday evening, as the retreatants walked out of their small private chapel for the last time, they reentered the world with a spiritual flame of ardor to face any difficulties with the knowledge that their mother in heaven is always ready, at any moment of the day, to comfort and assist them with all their troubles and worries.
To the eyes of the modern world, these 17 men wasted their time. After all, isn’t it a bit ridiculous to abandon your technology and attention to the world to remain completely silent for five whole days? But these men know that this statement is far from the truth: they did much more than simply remain silent and stay off their phones for a week. They learned what true love of the heavenly Matron of the college is: a complete consecration of their spiritual and material lives to Mary, an abandonment of all cares, anxiety, and worries to our Spiritual Mother in heaven.