BOCA RATON | For the first time since 2019, the AIM Ministry of St. Joan of Arc Parish gathered June 18, 2022, for an in-person event after being impeded by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Day of Spiritual Renewal included talks on the prodigal son and the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
AIM, which stands for Achieve, Inspire and Motivate, is a Catholic retreat ministry that serves the needs of people with physical disabilities. Since 1979, AIM has offered individuals whose disabilities have kept them from participating in regular parish retreats a way to deepen their faith, either through annual weekend overnight retreats or online mini-retreats.
Participants are paired at the in-person retreats with “buddies” who provide them with one-on-one assistance.
The main speaker was Father Adam Forno, who serves at St. Joan of Arc and Ascension parishes in Boca Raton and a church in Sunrise. Besides his talks, the day included time for silent reflection and table discussion, the sacrament of reconciliation, Mass, breakfast and lunch, music and prayer.
AIM leader Margarita Castellon said the ministry has been going on for 43 years, “without stop, without a break. Even during COVID, we immediately went to Zoom, offering virtual mini-retreats every other month.”
Perhaps unique to AIM is the fact that, even though it is a Catholic ministry that embodies the U.S. bishops’ 1978 pastoral statement on persons with disabilities, it is open to anyone seeking a closer relationship with God.
“This ministry, always from its creation, has existed for anybody, and we have been blessed to have many priests from our diocese and seminary participate through the years — even when they were seminarians,” Castellon said.
AIM was founded by Bernie and Harriet Molinski and Eileen Kenney, who were aware of the unique needs of individuals with physical challenges, but cognizant of universal elements. Participants and volunteers come from throughout south Florida and beyond to attend the retreats.