As with many organizations, the pandemic forced the Jesuit Retreat Center of Los Altos to change how we served God. I would like to highlight two changes which have stayed with us as we have opened for in-person retreats: virtual retreats and the expansion of individually directed retreats.
During the pandemic, we began to offer virtual retreats in a variety of formats. That has continued. Our most popular in-person retreats are often live streamed through Zoom. Many of the retreatants who do 19th Annotation retreats meet online instead of making weekly trips to the Center. We have had monthly retreat sessions and do spiritual direction online. This has not only increased the convenience of doing retreats through our Center, but also allowed us to reach many other people in places far and near.
The pandemic also affected the schedules of people who want to do individually directed retreats. We have found that many people have the flexibility of doing retreats at other times than the summer. The result has been that, throughout the year, we are rarely without one or two or more retreatants who are here making individual retreats directed by one of the retreat directors. This year, we will have directed more retreatants in the 30-day Exercises during the year than we direct during the summer.
These changes have allowed the Jesuit Retreat Center to respond to new expectations in an environment that is evolving because of the impact of COVID. May the grace of God help us to serve in these new situations!
Fr. John Auther, SJ is a Jesuit for 42 years and a priest for almost 30 years. In his pastoral ministry he has devoted a good deal of time to Spanish-speaking work, detention facilities and retreats. He began working at JRC in January 2020