Tuesday, November 6, 2018
Florida Catholic staff - Florida Catholic
MIAMI | The Emmaus retreat movement marked its 40th anniversary with a Mass Nov. 3 at St. Mary Cathedral, attended by nearly 800 people who have undergone the three-day spiritual experience.
During the Mass, Archbishop Thomas Wenski recognized Myrna Gallagher, who together with Father David Russell, then pastor of St. Louis Parish in Pinecrest, started the Emmaus retreats in the archdiocese in 1978.
Emmaus retreats grew out of Cursillo, which starts with a weekend retreat experience followed by weekly meetings aimed at deepening the faith. But Emmaus retreats are meant to be parish-based. The pastor and other priests are present to hear confession and celebrate Mass at the retreat’s conclusion.
“It is very important that it is parish-based because you see each other every Sunday and you get renewed,” Gallagher told The Florida Catholic when the movement marked its 35th anniversary. “Maybe you are down this week and he’s up and he brings you a good message and uplifts you. It’s about leaning on one another. It’s about asking the pastor what the parish needs and volunteering to do that. You can’t do those things if you don’t know the people and that’s part of the retreat.”
Emmaus began as a way for lay women to minister to their peers but soon spread to men and from there to other parishes in the archdiocese. Emmaus retreats have now been conducted throughout the U.S., Latin America, the Caribbean and even in Cuba.
The name, Emmaus, comes from the Gospel of Luke 24:13-35, when some disciples, leaving Jerusalem after the crucifixion, encounter the risen Jesus on the road to Emmaus. He explains the Scriptures to them and they recognize him "in the breaking of the bread."
Since it is a parish-based ministry, there is no database to know how many people have actually attended an Emmaus retreat, but in the Archdiocese of Miami alone it is estimated to be in the thousands.