Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta


Parish Retreat To Focus On ‘Celebrating God’s Gifts’

Published February 15, 2007

Augustinian retreat master Father James Friedel will present his popular program “Celebrating God’s Gifts” at St. John Neumann Church beginning March 4 at 7:30 p.m. Members of all area parishes are welcome.

The retreat will run nightly from Sunday to Thursday, March 4-7, 7:30-8:30 p.m., and provides an opportunity for parishioners and guests to turn off the “engines” of their busy lives and to reflect on what matters most.

“‘Celebrating God’s Gifts’ provides parishioners the opportunity to consider the many gifts God has given them, and then to explore how God may be calling them to use these gifts to be a source of life and hope to others,” explained Father Friedel, whose down-to-earth, story-telling style draws crowds and keeps his schedule booked years in advance.

In fact, his appearance at St. John Neumann has been four years in the making.

“Father Friedel came highly recommended by a friend of our former pastor, Msgr. James Fennessy, so I called him in 2003 when I was the coordinator of adult faith formation,” said Patti Miller, SJN family faith director. “The first available date that Father Friedel had was in Lent of 2007. So I booked him immediately, and now that the time has finally come, we are all definitely looking forward to the mission. I pray that this faith event for the whole SJN community will bless many and enrich the parish.”

Father Friedel has conducted parish missions and religious retreats throughout the United States and Canada for the past 16 years, including several parishes in the Archdiocese of Atlanta, among them Corpus Christi Church in Stone Mountain, St. Lawrence Church in Lawrenceville and the Church of the Good Shepherd in Cumming.

St. Lawrence parishioner Cynthia Owens called the retreat at her parish “without a doubt the best parish mission I’ve ever been to. Our parish was packed to overflowing every night,” she said. “At other missions I’ve been to, sometimes the crowds dwindle because of other commitments, but not this one. Father Friedel was very engaging and gregarious.”

“I’ve been to Father Friedel’s first two missions at Good Shepherd, and he is a dynamic speaker—his message touches the soul,” said Vicki Winslow, a former member of St. John Neumann.

The retreat Father Friedel will conduct at SJN is divided into four one-hour presentations. The first night’s program is entitled, “The Gift of God’s Love for Us,” and focuses on the reason Jesus came among mankind, namely, to tell of God’s love, and addresses why many people find it difficult to believe in God’s love for them.

The second night, “The Gift of God’s Forgiveness” provides the parish the opportunity to experience God’s compassionate forgiveness through the sacrament of reconciliation. The third night focuses on the parish being the place where people can celebrate their joy, confront their pain and use the gifts God has given them to thrive as His people. That night’s presentation is called, “The Gift of Our Parish.”

Finally, in “The Gift of the Eucharist,” the mission concludes around the table of the Lord where Catholics are nourished, comforted and challenged by the word, by the Body and Blood of the Lord, and by the presence of one another.

Father Friedel is affiliated with the Augustinians of the Midwest, whose members are part of the Order of Brothers of St. Augustine, an international Catholic religious community founded in 1244. He is one of 107 priests and brothers in this order who work in preaching and teaching, spiritual direction and counseling, parish, campus and hospital ministries, theological research and in the arts and sciences.

A native of Chicago, Father Friedel was ordained in 1965 and served as a parish priest and pastor for 13 years. He has degrees in philosophy, theology and religious psychology and a doctorate in ministry and has served as director for the Chicago Marriage Encounter, associate director of the Family Life Office, and pastor of St. Clare of Montefalco Church in Chicago.

The church is located at 801 Tom Smith Road, Lilburn. The nursery will be available during the retreat sessions.