I had a wonderful time this weekend — praying, sharing, fraternizing and generally just enjoying the company of the deacon community in the Diocese of El Paso. About 60 deacons and their wives joined me for the retreat (subject: “The Eucharist: We Become What We Receive”). What a great group.

And what a great setting.

I can’t say enough good things about the Holy Cross Retreat Center, aptly billed as “An Oasis in the Desert.” It’s located just across the border in Mesilla Park, New Mexico.

The place manages to be both humble and hospitable, with a chapel that is simply beautiful (and beautifully simple.) It’s run by the Franciscans — and I’m told the deacon community always tries to schedule its annual retreat close to the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi.

I had the privilege of staying in the hermitage, which was essentially a studio apartment with a small kitchen and patio.

I also had some friendly  neighbors out back: donkeys, reminding me of other travelers who ventured to Bethlehem and into Jerusalem long ago.

If you’re looking for a place to really get away from it all on retreat, I recommend Holy Cross Retreat Center. Really. You can thank me later. (I forgot to the mention the spectacular Mexican cuisine they serve at lunch and dinner. The most important barometer of a retreat house is its food. Holy Cross doesn’t disappoint.)

Check out the video below.

I hope to find my way back to El Paso before too long. As one of the deacons told me, “You’re part of the family now.” I sure felt the love.

Gracias, one and all!