2023 Graduate Deacon Scott Gilfillan Prepares Retreatants to Be Spiritually Ready for the New Year
Deacon Scott Gilfillan, 2023 graduate of the Divine Mercy University Spiritual Direction Certificate Program led a retreat in Hickory, North Carolina, that prepared 70 retreatants to get spiritually ready for the New Year. Scott’s wife, Kimberly was a retreatant and Debra Dinolfo (DMU, SDC, 2023), classmate of Deacon Scott, also attended with her husband, John.
During this New Year’s retreat, the Mass both opened and closed the gathering. Adoration of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament was exposed in the last hour of 2023 to adore our precious Lord as we left 2023 and entered 2024. Retreat Master, Deacon Scott, presented Ignatian spiritual exercises 1 through 5 with tender attention to detail that made the process understandable. To prepare for the New Year spiritually, retreatants found, interspersed around the Center, a few optional activities to do between sessions, to help them become more familiar with the exercises, like:
- Create our own poem for the new year.
- Write a letter to Jesus or a letter from Jesus to you.
- Express your desires to God for the upcoming year.
- Benchmark your consolations and desolations from the previous year.
- Construct a spiritual life map.
Consolations 2023, Desolations 2023, and Desires 2024 from the New Year’s Retreat were posted on the wall by each retreatant and Deacon Scott read each one as the whole group was led to respond to an intention, with “Lord, hear our prayer.” In this activity participants shared their experienced feelings of being heard, comforted, and encouraged.
This retreat evoked many positive comments. They include the following:
- The talks helped explain the many ways we can open ourselves up to God.
- . . . appreciated Deacon Scott’s sharing of personal experiences which enhanced not only his talks but provided a better understanding for each session.
- I greatly appreciated Deacon Scott’s real-life examples of good spirit vs bad spirit influences.
- I am more aware of how our Lord works in all things and has the ultimate victory when we trust Him and are open to His grace. I feel more confident about making decisions moving forward as I focus on what will bring Him the greatest glory.
Deacon Scott asks readers, in one of his most recent newsletter meditations, “Are you looking for a new way to see God’s plan in your life? Maybe slowly, meditatively put together a jigsaw puzzle. With each piece, prayerfully imagine how God is assembling the pieces of your life into a magnificent landscape.”
Thanks to Debra Dinolfo (SDC Graduate 2023) for this wonderful article!