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For 60 years, Our Lady of Fatima Retreat House in Indianapolis has been a special place to spend quiet time with God.
In recent years, the slogan for the archdiocesan retreat center has evolved from “The Art of Spiritual Renewal” to “Spirit-Driven Renewal” to “A Place to Be with God” as reminders of the many opportunities to experience God’s love at the retreat house and scenic, 13-acre wooded grounds at 5353 E. 56th St.
It’s important for people of faith to focus on their relationship with God by setting aside time “to step away from the routine of our lives and enter into a time of Sabbath,” Father James Farrell, Fatima’s director and the pastor of St. Pius X Parish in Indianapolis, told the ministry’s supporters during the 60th anniversary dinner on Oct. 23 at the Northside Knights of Columbus Hall.
His message was echoed during the keynote speech by Father Keith Hosey, a priest of the Lafayette Diocese, who served as the director of the Pope John XXIII Retreat Center in Hartford City for 40 years.
When Pope Benedict XVI visited England for the recent canonization of Cardinal John Henry Newman, Father Hosey said, he reminded the young people that “heart speaks to heart,” and they must listen closely for God’s voice in their daily lives.
“He said to them [that] the most important thing in life is relationships, and how we love—not only our loving, but how well we are able to receive love,” Father Hosey recalled. “And he said, but even more important than that, … in order to receive the love of God, you have to hear and listen to God. And he said, very clearly, Jesus has put his love deep within you, and only if you go to that depth will you hear the Lord speak because he speaks in silence. The need for silence today is absolutely necessary.”
By spending quiet time in prayer each day, Father Hosey said, we will hear “the silent voice of God deep within,” who will lovingly lead us through the challenges of life.
“Unless we find that silence [with God],” he said, “we will lose ourselves in noise. … Sabbath isn’t just one day. It’s wherever you can find the silence.”
The best ways to honor Fatima’s ministry, Father Hosey said, are through financial support, participation in spiritual retreats there and making time for silence in daily life.
Whenever we take the time to be silent, we will be surprised how God will walk into our lives, he said. “God is within us. … He has put himself there in a very special way, and we need to fall there in his loving arms. … Retreat houses are important because we need silence, not just once a day or once a week, but there has to be some time in our rhythm once or twice a year when we really get away from everything. That’s why Fatima is a Sabbath house.”
God’s language is silence, Father Hosey said. “He loves us so much and wants to meet us in the silence.”
Archbishop Daniel M. Buechlein offered his thanks to Fatima’s supporters, volunteers and staff members, who make the archdiocesan retreat ministry possible.
“Thank God,” he said, “for our blessed place of quiet and peace.”
Since Archbishop Paul C. Schulte founded the archdiocesan retreat ministry in 1950, Our Lady of Fatima Retreat House has been directed by three priests and several laypeople, and served by four orders of women religious.
The late Father James Moriarty, Fatima’s first director, moved the retreat ministry from its south-side location at the former Good Shepherd Convent at 1111 W. Raymond St. to East 56th Street in 1963.
Fatima’s second director, the late Msgr. Kenny Sweeney, led the archdiocesan retreat ministry from 1967 until 1976.
Father Donald Schneider was appointed the director of Our Lady of Fatima Retreat House in Indianapolis on Sept. 29, 1976, and served in that ministry position until August of 1984.
Before Father Farrell was appointed in 2008, Kevin DePrey and Rick Wagner directed retreat programming.
The Sisters of the Good Shepherd served Fatima from 1950 until 1963 at the first location. After the retreat house was built on East 56th Street, the Dominican Sisters served there from 1966 until 1975. The Sisters of Providence assisted with the retreat ministry from 1975 until 1991, and a Franciscan sister from Oldenburg served on Fatima’s staff during the 1980s.
“From 1950 through the years—beginning with Archbishop Schulte, Archbishop Biskup, Archbishop O’Meara and Archbishop Buechlein—we have enjoyed the support of the archdiocese and the archbishops,” Father Farrell said. “I know that, just from the years that I have been at Fatima, how much of a safety net the archdiocese has provided in helping us each year to close the gap between our income and our expenses. … We are going to help you discover that silence that will turn the key for your relationship with God. It’s all about this special place, ‘a place to be with God,’ but we can only do it with your help and support.”
St. Monica parishioners Vincent and Robyn Caponi of Indianapolis were the honorary chairpersons for the 60th anniversary celebration and fundraiser.
“I think Fatima is truly a sacred place,” Vincent Caponi, the chief executive officer of St. Vincent Health, the event sponsor, said after the program. “I think the people that come there need that place of silence, that place of reflection, to examine their lives, and it’s a great facility for the archdiocese and the people.”
St. Christopher parishioner Colette Fike of Indianapolis, a former associate director of programs at the archdiocesan retreat house, said after the program that Fatima’s dedicated volunteers serve the guests in so many unseen ways.
“The volunteers make Fatima feel like a home to the people,” she said. “They provide that warmth, and truly are God’s presence to the guests.” †