First HM Retreat for young women in Singapore from December 7th - 11th, 2015.
This Advent, Our Blessed Mother brought the Servant Sisters to Singapore to have our very first HM retreat for the girls in Singapore. The retreat was conducted in the Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, from the seventh to the eleventh of December, 2015. Twenty-seven young ladies took the leap of faith to commit five days to deepen their relationship with the Lord. The theme of the retreat was “Jesus, today I’m all for you! Jesus, today you’re everything for me!” The girls truly lived out this spirit during the retreat – opening their hearts wide to receive Jesus completely.
Throughout the retreat, the girls had many opportunities to practice dying to self in order to grow in the virtues of obedience, patience, chastity and humility. They also had a taste of community living, which inspired them to grow into the habit of serving and being attentive to the needs of others, following the example of our Blessed Mother. We are truly grateful for Mother Mary in fulfilling her role as our spiritual Mother to form the girls individually.
Every morning, we spent an hour adoring the Blessed Sacrament, praying morning prayer (Lauds), and having guided meditation. The Sisters guided us with points of meditation from Saint Ignatius’ spiritual exercises. Every evening we attended Mass at the parish, where we were nourished by the Word of God and the Eucharist each day. We also prayed the evening prayer (Vespers) and night prayer (Compline), with an examination of conscience guided by the Sisters.
Sister Karen and Sister Kelly conducted three formation sessions each day. Some of the formation topics were on the Creation, Who Man is, the People of Israel, Our Blessed Mother, Heaven, Grace, Sin, the Sacraments, Virtues, Missionaries, Consecrated life, the life of Prayer, etc. The girls shared that they found the formation sessions very intense, but it made them realize how profoundly beautiful our faith is, and the importance of continually forming themselves intellectually after the retreat.
Sister Karen gave a talk on “Sin”, delving deeply into the gravity of sin. She talked about the differences between venial sins and mortal sins, the three conditions for a sin to constitute as a mortal sin, and gave many examples of mortal sins. The girls took the opportunity to clear their doubts on what sins constitute as mortal sins, to ensure that they would confess every mortal sin later on during the Sacrament of Reconciliation. They realized the severity of living in the state of mortal sin, as this cuts off the life of sanctifying grace in us. Sister Karen also reminded us of the five conditions necessary for a good confession, that is, 1) the examination of conscience, 2) contrition (sincere repentance), 3) amendment (the firm proposal not to sin again), 4) the confession of sins, and 5) the fulfillment of penance.
Next, we had the Sacrament of Reconciliation which the girls were looking forward to. All the girls went for the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Many of them shared that they now knew the power of making good and regular confessions in order to experience the true peace, freedom and joy of living in the state of grace.
All in all, the girls were greatly rewarded by the Lord for giving themselves fully during those five days. They grew in their virtues, intellectual formation, personal relationship with the Lord, and devotion to Our Lady. They also better appreciated the great gifts of the Eucharist and the Sacrament of Reconciliation that Christ had instituted for the Church. They also formed friendships with likeminded girls – friendships that elevated one another towards holiness. The girls left the retreat with a new strength to return to their routine according to the way God wants of them. It will be an uphill spiritual battle from here, but the girls know that they can call upon our Heavenly Mother who will fight the battle with and for them at every moment in time.
Apart from the retreat, the Sisters also got the opportunity to meet the Carmelite Sisters, the Canossian Sisters, and His Grace William Goh (Archbishop of Singapore). We know very well that this trip to Singapore would not have been so fruitful if not for the work of Our Lady. If She wants it again, we will be back in Singapore again next year!