Holy Rosary Parish’s Faith Day draws crowd of 150

About 150 people gathered at Evansville’s Holy Rosary Parish for the 2024 Faith Day retreat. The Message photo by Megan Erbacher

By Megan Erbacher

The Message editor

About 150 people gathered at Evansville’s Holy Rosary Parish March 9 for the 2024 Faith Day. This year’s theme was, “The Passion of Jesus,” led by Benedictine Father Eugene Hensell, a monk from St. Meinrad.

In her introduction, Holy Rosary parishioner and Director of Religious Education Carol Ann Gaddis said Father Eugene has served in various roles at St. Meinrad, including as a teacher, professor, vice rector of St. Meinrad College, and president rector of both the college and school of theology. Since 1997, he’s engaged in full-time biblical retreat work throughout the country for clergy, religious and laity.

“We’re very glad to have him with us as we go into these final weeks of Lent and prepare ourselves for the Easter celebration,” Gaddis said.

Benedictine Father Eugene Hensell, at podium, presented the “Passion Narratives from the Gospel of Mark,” at the March 9 Faith Day at Evansville’s Holy Rosary Parish. The Message photo by Megan Erbacher

During Faith Day, Father Eugene led attendees through five sessions on the “Passion Narratives from the Gospel of Mark,” especially the portions that specifically deal with Jesus’ suffering and death. Participants looked for clues that might offer insight into what it could mean for us today, as we make our way in a busy, contemporary world.

“I hope they take away some understanding of how Jesus ended up on the cross,” Father Eugene said. “What he did that would upset both Romans and Jews so drastically that they felt that someone who basically just walked around and talked and did some exorcisms and healings, but others did that too, how on earth he could upset so many people that he was considered to be an insurrectionist and ended up on the cross.”

To figure that out, Father Eugene said you must read the stories or gospels. Each story – Matthew, Mark, Luke and John – have kind of a different approach, he explained.

“I’m just looking at it from Mark’s approach because he was the first one to try to put this down in writing. … I’m doing that now because of Lent, and Lent is the prime time to talk about The Passion,” Father Eugene said. 

He presents this in story form to get people to think about it from a different perspective.

“To get people into the story so that they can get a sense of, ‘I wonder what it would have felt like if I would have been there? What would I have thought if I could have seen that, or would I say he’s crazy too? I mean, it sounded crazy to me.’ To kind of force them to look at some things in a different, uncomfortable way which people don’t like to do,” Father Eugene said. “But I think that’s exactly what Mark wanted to do.”

Gaddis said Holy Rosary has hosted a Faith Day for at least 12 years. She said the goal is to offer something more than just a simple workshop.

“We wanted to do something to really engage more of our people and to bring in a variety of speakers,” she said. “This is the first or second year of all the years we’ve only had one speaker. It’s to give them a broader perspective than who they hear every weekend.”

This year’s committee included Gaddis, Sister of Providence Mary Mundy, Nina Charnes, Marilyn Doyle, Kathy Hambidge and Ann Stuckey. Gaddis said they first ask Father Bernie Etienne, pastor of Holy Rosary, where he wants to lead the committee for a theme or presenter.

“I think he wanted a retreat experience this year, a time that is about reflection on the Passion,” she said. “And he’s heard Father Eugene speak many times, and knew he would be ‘really good.’”

Faith Day also included breaks to allow time to connect with the faith community and a soup lunch provided by many parishioners.

Reconciliation was offered, and then Faith Day concluded with Mass.

Many attendees brought nonperishable food items to donate to the Nativity Food Pantry.