When Fr. Domenic Roscioli’s spring retreat with the Wheaten Franciscan Sisters in Illinois was canceled due to the pandemic, his decision to make the retreat available via Zoom was a big hit. While he was unfamiliar with the platform, the leasing agent from his apartment complex helped the retired priest of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee navigate the system. He was able to complete the several-day retreat without too many challenges.
Following the retreat, Terri Adrian from the Milwaukee Catholic Home contacted Fr. Roscioli about doing a pre-recorded retreat there, as many living at the Catholic Home do not have access to Zoom.
“I contacted the parish administrator, Nancie Chmielewski, at Our Lady of Lourdes, where I am a help-out priest,” he said. “We talked about an idea where we will make the retreat, ‘God’s Story, Our Story,’ available to convents and nursing homes across the country.”
The retreat theme consists of a series of Fr. Roscioli’s stories that cover growing up as a Catholic kid in Kenosha in the 1950s, his experiences at Paul Newman’s Camps for Children with Cancer, as well as his years of working on social justice issues in the inner city of Kenosha.
“I then tie in my stories with the listener’s life story. Each session ends with questions for reflection and/or discussion,” he said. “My intent is to help people realize that their story is indeed part of God’s grand design from the moment he formed and fashioned each one of them in the womb. The retreat is basically a parish mission that I would normally conduct in person before the coronavirus.”
Marc Puechner the tech specialist at OLOL professionally recorded the four, one-hour retreat sessions and Fr. Roscioli will advertise the retreat nationwide. He plans to provide it for an optional free-will offering.
“The donations will be accepted but not expected,” said Fr. Roscioli. “Any donations received will be split between myself and OLOL. The donations will obviously help me as a retired priest and will also be an additional income for OLOL to pay the person who will be connecting institutions to the retreat. We are very excited to see this develop and grow.”
Fr. Roscioli assisted as a deacon at the parish 47 years ago, serving and learning from the pastor, Fr. Charley Kleefish, and associates, Fr. Joe Juknialis and Fr. Jack Van Abel. He added that Dcn. John Monday has also inspired him at OLOL.
“I still find the same welcoming community these many years later. Nancie Chmielewski leads the parish with the same guidance of the Holy Spirit as I found there all those years ago,” he said. “Our Lady of Lourdes has always brought the Church outside its walls, so this is a good place to be doing this.
To learn more or host a retreat for your parish or convent, contact Fr. Domenic Roscioli at firstname.lastname@example.org.