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Salesian priest to present retreat on spirituality of St. Francis de Sales

The following story appeared in the January 28 Idaho Catholic Register.


Salesian spirituality in this 400th year since the death of St. Francis de Sales will be the topic of a two-day retreat in Boise led by Father Joseph Boenzi, S.D.B., a professor at the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology in Berkeley, Calif.


The retreat is scheduled from 6 to 9 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 11, and continues from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 12, at St. Mary’s Parish, 2620 W. State St. in Boise.


Father Boenzi will provide insights into St. Francis de Sales’ classic work, Introduction to the Devout Life.


Father Boenzi is a member of the Salesians of Don Bosco. His research and teaching focuses on the charisms of the Holy Spirit, the role of the laity in the church, and the spiritualties of Don Bosco and St. Francis de Sales. He received his Doctorate of Sacred Theology from the Salesian Pontifical University in Rome in 1996 and is the author of the 2013 work, St. Francis de Sales: Life and Spirit. Father Boenzi teaches at the Institute of Salesian Spiritualty and is a visiting professor of Spiritual Theology at Salesian Pontifical University.


“Participants will encounter this kind saint, through his spiritual guide written for common folks,” said Kevin Laughlin of the Anam Cara Spiritual Direction Ministry based at Holy Apostles Catholic Church in Meridian. “When you explore Salesian spirituality with Father Boenzi, you will more deeply comprehend this holy saint and his ideas and simple devotion,” Laughlin said.


The retreat will explore de Sales’ spiritual exercises, prayers, virtues, and paths to devotion in addition to his wisdom on the Eucharist and the spiritual life.


“Father Boenzi can bring his gentle ways to your daily life,” Laughlin said. “While exploring de Sales’ spiritual path, you will learn devotions for yourself, your family, teaching, and catechesis.”


St. Francis de Sales began his life as a scholar who earned a doctorate in theology and law. He received a call to the priesthood and, despite the disapproval of his family, was ordained and began his career as a prolific writer and preacher. He was blessed in his ability to return others to the faith through his simple and clear explanations of Catholic doctrine. He used sign language to convert the deaf and helped found the Order of the Visitation, a religious Order for women also known as the Salesian Sisters. He was one of the first to articulate a lay spirituality in the Church. The Second Vatican Council cited this gentle bishop of Geneva when describing the Universal Call to Holiness (Lumen Gentium, 39-42).


St. Francis de Sales, a Doctor the Church, is the patron saint of teachers, deaf people, Catholic press, confessors, educators and authors. His feast day is Jan. 24.


The retreat, which includes lunch and snacks, is $30 per person, $40 per couple and/or a free-will donation. Register by Feb. 8 by emailing Roxanne at rharlow@stmarysboise.org, or calling 208-344-2597. To register using a credit card go to the St. Mary’s website at stmarysboise.org, click on the “Donation” button and find the retreat on the drop-down menu.


A block of rooms is set aside at the Riverside Hotel in Boise at a special rate. Ask for the “de Sales retreat rate” for bed and breakfast at riversideboise.com.


The retreat is sponsored by parishioners at Holy Apostles in Meridian and St. Mary’s in Boise, members of the Idaho Spiritual Directors Network, Anam Cara Spiritual Direction Ministry at Holy Apostles, the Institute of Salesian Studies and the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology at Berkeley.


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