KUCHING – The week of 12-16 May was a period of fruitful prayer and reflection for me. Together with all my brother priests of the Archdiocese of Kuching, we gathered at St Peter’s College Seminary for our annual retreat.
We were indeed blessed to have Fr John Fuellenbach, a Divine Word Missionary, accept Archbishop John Ha’s invitation to be our retreat master. Fr Fuellenbach is a distinguished professor of theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. With a vast experience in the area of spiritual direction behind him, the German priest arrived in Kuching to preach his 353rd retreat!
One of the many things that struck me most was his stress on having the correct God image: how we perceive God to be shapes our spirituality and impacts the way we do ministry. Fr Fuellenbach seemed able to put into words the different and sometimes conflicting God images many people have operating in the subconscious.
In the Old Testament, Israel’s God image was influenced by the ideas about deities in the nations that surrounded it. However, God gradually but partially revealed his true nature to them to correct the false notions they had of him. The revelation of God as infinite, unconditional love fully emerged in Jesus Christ (cf Jn 3:16). To rid ourselves of unhealthy scruples which we may have, we need to purge away these wrong ideas about God.
At the end of the retreat, Archbishop Ha thanked Fr Fuellenbach on behalf of the retreatants for providing fresh and striking spiritual perspectives throughout the five days. The numerous anecdotes he told were very memorable and carried profound spiritual meanings.
The conferences and the time spent in quite prayer and reflection, were beneficial in reorienting the way I view the world and the events happening in it. I am certain many of us came away from the retreat with hearts renewed and more ardently ‘on fire’ which we will bring back into the priestly ministry.
Fr Felix Au