Some 40 Dames and Knights of Malta from the greater Los Angeles area came to the campus of Thomas Aquinas College on Saturday for a one-day retreat led by Rev. Msgr. Salvatore Pilato, superintendent for Catholic high schools in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. “Given the College’s proximity to both Los Angeles and Santa Barbara, this seemed like an ideal location for our retreat,” says Anne Forsyth, DM, chair of the Nurturing the Faith Committee for the Western Association of the Order of Malta and the College’s director of College Relations. “Without driving too far, knights and dames could get the necessary spiritual fortification to carry us through the remainder of Lent.”
The morning began with a conference, after which Msgr. Pilato and the College’s head chaplain, Rev. Cornelius M. Buckley, S.J., made themselves available for confession, while others prayed the Rosary or enjoyed some quiet time. A mid-morning Mass followed in Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity Chapel, concelebrated by Msgr. Pilato and another College chaplain, Rev. Joseph Illo. The group then reconvened for lunch in the campus coffee shop, a concluding conference, and benediction back in the Chapel.
Joining the dames and knights for the retreat was one of the College’s students, Nicholas Van Hecke (’16), whom the Order had brought as a malade to Lourdes, France, in 2010. Although Mr. Van Hecke, who is confined to a wheelchair as a result of spina bifida, did not receive the miraculous cure he had sought, he today thrives as an energetic freshman in the College’s program of Catholic liberal education. “Seeing the graces from that trip at work in Nick’s life was very heartening for all of us,” says Mrs. Forsyth.
“The whole day was one of great blessings,” says Dr. Michael F. McLean, KM, president of Thomas Aquinas College. “We were able to come together with our fellow dames and knights, pray, and turn our thoughts completely toward God. We hope to make this retreat a regular Lenten event, and look forward to welcoming the Order back on campus next year.”
Photos by Maria O. Grant, DM | Posted: March 21, 2013