Faithful urged to focus on ‘Jesus Light of Life’ at Lenten retreat series

By Linda Andrade Rodrigues, Anchor Correspondent

ATTLEBORO, Mass. — Lenten retreats offer us uninterrupted time to think seriously about Jesus and renew our faith from the inside out.

New to the National Shrine of Our Lady of La Salette this year is a Lenten retreat series focused on the theme: “Jesus Light of Life.” 

“The coldness of the dark is driven away by the warmth of the sun, and in the darkness new light dawns,” said Sister Mary Margaret Souza, S.S.D. “Light enables us to see the way, to distinguish differences, to enjoy beauty, to appreciate life. Jesus emphatically refers to Himself as the Light of the World. It was through His Incarnation that new life and new light burst forth into the darkness of the world.”

Retreat sessions will be held on the six Lenten Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Welcome Center. Prayer and reflective discussion will highlight each day, as well as the opportunity for Reconciliation. All are welcome to attend one, several or all six sessions.

“This is an occasion to be exposed to the Word of God as we approach the period of Lent, which is one of the most important Liturgically,” said Father Flavio Gillio, M.S. “It is also an opportunity to share with other people who are on a similar journey. It will be very enriching and very encouraging.”

The series will begin on February 21 with a presentation by Father Andre Patenaude, M.S., who is known worldwide for his joyful expression of his faith through music. Music ministry has been part of Father Pat’s life since his childhood in Fall River, through his first priestly assignment on Cape Cod, to his decades of providing music for the pilgrims at the National Shrine of Our Lady of La Salette. As always, he will uniquely combine his music and message for Lenten visitors.

Father Gillio, who serves as assistant director of the shrine, will be retreat leader on February 28. A Scripture scholar, he taught Scripture and Judaism as a member of the Pontifical Theological Faculty of Southern Italy in Naples, as well as for eight years in Israel. A native of Italy, he has, in recent years, served in parish ministry and led missions and Scripture discussions in the United States.

“Basically what I will do is propose a couple of Biblical texts,” said Father Gillio, who will teach the monastic practice of Lectio Divina, seeking the presence of God through reading, meditation, prayer and contemplation.

 Offering the presentation on March 7 will be Sister Souza who joined the La Salette Retreat House staff this year. A Sister of St. Dorothy, she is an experienced educator, pastoral counselor and spiritual director and has served as a teacher and principal on the elementary and high school levels. She holds a master’s degree in Theology and Spirituality, a master’s degree in Clinical Pastoral Counseling, a doctorate in Pastoral Counseling and a certificate in Spiritual Direction.

Deacon Greg Kandra, who serves in the Diocese of Brooklyn, N.Y., will lead the March 14 session. A veteran broadcast journalist, he worked for 26 years as a writer and producer for CBS News in New York and Washington. He has been honored with many major awards in broadcasting, including two George Foster Peabody Awards, two Emmy Awards, and four awards from the Writers Guild of America. He currently authors articles on faith and contemporary Church issues for many Catholic publications and shares his thoughts regularly on Twitter, Facebook and blogs.

Leading the March 21 session will be Sister Barbara Quinn, R.S.C.J., the associate director of Spiritual formation at the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry. A member of the Society of the Sacred Heart, she was the founding director of the Center for Christian Spirituality at the University of San Diego and also served ministerial roles as formation director, campus minister, pastoral associate and religious educator. Sister Quinn earned a master’s degree in Ministry from Weston Jesuit School of Theology and a doctorate in Ministry from the Catholic Theological Union.

Father Cyriac C. Mattathilanickal, director of the National Shrine of Our Lady of La Salette, will present the last retreat session in the series on March 28.

“As typical of any apparitions of Mary, the Blessed Mother always calls attention to her Son Who is the ‘Light of Life,’” said Father Mattahilanickal. “Our Lady draws our focus to Christ the true Light of the World that shines in the midst of the shadows of our life. Come discover this Jesus Who wants to accompany us in all our darkness and fear and lead us to light and life!” 

To register for one or more retreat sessions or for more information, call (508) 222-8530, visit or email Each seven-hour session costs $30 and includes lunch.

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