Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
January 18, 2010
Live-In brings people closer to Jesus
My admiration and heartfelt thanks go out to Father Clair Watrin, a holy man who was ordained in 1959. Some 40 years ago he allowed the Spirit to work through him to begin a series of special, Christ-centred weekend retreats, first for youth and then for adults.
While in Lethbridge in the late 1960s, this Basilian priest allowed the Holy Spirit to work through him to establish the youth SEARCH program in Canada. In the early 1970s, at the suggestion of the youth, he also became "the human founder" of a series of weekend retreats for adults. Over time, that latter ministry has come to be known as Live-In International.
I was blessed to attend my Live-In weekend with my wife, Marianne in May 1999 with the Edmonton-Strathcona Live-In Society (ESLIS). They hosted four weekend retreats each year at Holy Redeemer School in Ardrossan, and all who attended had their "spiritual batteries" recharged.
It was a time of grace that led me to a deeper faith. God's love for me was reinforced and cemented in place, and by his grace I came to know Jesus better and to appreciate anew his great sacrifice for me.
While I had heard about Father Watrin and the places that the Live-In had spread to (including St. Lucia in the Caribbean), it wasn't until the 10th anniversary celebration Mass for ESLIS that I met him and witnessed his many charisms.
Here was a priest who was on fire for the Lord and who didn't just say, but prayed the Mass. Over the years, he not only tended the flock at his assigned parish, but also shepherded the flocks springing up at various Live-In centres. From that first meeting, he provided for me a clear example of the unconditional love that we should expect from God the Father.
Over the years I accepted the challenge to join in various "stewardship" positions in the Live-In ministry. Partly because of my love for Father Clair and in appreciation for his "fiat," but mostly because I viewed it as a time for payback, I joined the ESLIS core group, then the Live-In International executive and eventually served as the chairman of the executive.
It was a period of stretching and spiritual growth for all of us at every level, but we had Father Clair to guide us, to pray with us and for us. By his own example, we came to know that there was nothing that we could ever deny the Lord, for he has given us everything.
John "the evangelist" Connelly has stated that, in his opinion, there is nothing as effective as the Live-In movement for its ability to bring people closer to Jesus.
Without Father Clair and his "fiat," it just simply would not exist today. A recent tally of the numbers reported by the Live-In centres reveals that in 37 years over 500 retreat weekends have been hosted, and over 18,000 people have been brought closer to the Lord by their participation.
Many of those have pursued a religious vocation and many are like me - heavily involved in our own parishes in ways that we could not have anticipated. The fruits of the Live-In have been many and varied; in many ways they are a direct result of the guidance, inspiration and perseverance of Father Clair.
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