June 18, 2017

Apostolate of the Suffering holds Day of Retreat

Story and photos by David Martin

Springfield Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski celebrated Mass at Mary Farm in Palmer, during the day of retreat for the Apostolate of the Suffering, Saturday, June 17.

PALMER – More than 50 people gathered at Mary Farm in Palmer for the annual Day of Retreat for the Apostolate of the Suffering, Saturday, June 17.

The morning began with prayer at 9:30 a.m. as attendees offered up intentions for those living with a chronic illness,  suffering from physical and mental limitations, and for those who have no one else to pray for them.

Silent Worker of the Cross Brother Robert Letasz, who attended the retreat, retired in March after 33 years as director of the Apostolate of the Suffering. Brother Letasz said even though he resides in Maine, he remains active with the apostolate by attending events in this area. Brother Letasz said there are special souls that God has chosen to identify with, in a special way. He said those special souls are the sick who offer up their suffering as a sacrifice for the conversion of sinners.

“These special people needed special direction, special inspiration and even a special association with each other so they might sustain one another at the foot of the cross in today’s world. It is for these people the Apostolate of the Suffering was founded,” said Brother Letasz.

Jeannine Gagnon, a parishioner of Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament Parish in Westfield, has many fond memories of Brother Letasz. Gagnon’s husband donated the Mary Farm land to be used for the Apostolate of the Suffering.

“He (Brother Letasz) has the gift of prayer and is very dedicated to our Blessed Mother. When he started the apostolate right away he had the great gift of bringing people together. A very talented man, helping with different aspects of all the activities,” said Gagnon.

During the day, people gathered to pray the rosary in the barn on the grounds of the farm and had the opportunity to go to confession. Springfield Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski celebrated Mass. He said in his homily that while those present are united with Christ’s own redemptive suffering, the love of Christ still allows them to be his witnesses in the world. Bishop Rozanski told iObserve that everyone brings to God the suffering they withstand in his or her own lives, so it is essential to be unified in prayer.

“It is important to be united in the Lord Jesus who gives us strength to endure our sufferings and to see in those sufferings a meaning, because of his own redemptive suffering for us,” said Bishop Rozanski.

Following a lunch break, Bishop Rozanski gave a presentation on “The Theology of Suffering of Saint John Paul II.” He said despite the suffering that St. John Paul II endured in his lifetime, he was able to bring to the church a great gift of hope, saying to everyone “Be not afraid.”

The Apostolate of the Suffering is now under the direction of Mary Brodeur.

For a video version of this story, tune into an upcoming edition of “Real to Reel” the Diocese of Springfield’s weekly television news magazine that airs Saturday evenings at 7 on WWLP-22NEWS.