Spotlight Story

12 November 2021

Unwinding in Nature: Hispanic Leadership Network Members Find Moment of Peace During Annual Retreat

Category: Spotlight Story

By: Christine Tamara, Director of Partner Engagement

“A time to pause, reflect, and connect” was the Hispanic Leadership Network’s theme for its 2021 renewal retreat, and we discovered it was exactly what our faith leaders needed. Originally, the program for the Hispanic Leadership Network was designed without COVID-19 in mind. Hispanic Access had envisioned a conference in D.C. with trainings and workshops for leaders in early 2020. However, due to the pandemic, the conference had to be cancelled. As I regrouped with our program staff I proposed to do something out of the ordinary. Instead of a formal conference, I proposed a retreat at a National Park, where leaders could rejuvenate and relax in nature.  

After the retreat, the team at Hispanic Access agreed it had been the correct choice. We would've never had imagined the positive impact the Hispanic Leadership Network retreat could’ve had on our leaders. Driving through Zion National Park’s breathtaking nature made windows and hiking the historic Navajo Loop trail at Bryce Canyon, provided the leaders with deep inspiration. The connections and experiences catapulted their spiritual and physical relationships. The experience was exactly what everyone needed, especially after tirelessly serving a very vulnerable community amidst a global pandemic.  Blog3

Our team kept the agenda loose and flexible as they ushered clergy into the beauty and tranquility only nature can offer. During one particular excursion, leaders witnessed deer effortlessly gallup up rocky hills. Several of them associated the graceful image with Habakkuk 3:19 –”You make my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on heights.”(NIV) It became a beautiful reminder of how their Creator also enables them to face challenging heights. 

Blog1“I have never experienced a retreat like this before and I am so grateful for it,” said Dr. William Carcamo during our last night of the renewal retreat. “When I first entered the Hispanic Leadership Network program, I wondered about what new experiences and lessons the program could offer to a leader with over forty years of pastoral ministry. Now, I would like to ask the program staff to continue to serve us pastors and please not forget about us. This retreat and program has changed my life.”  “I have attended many retreats and pastoral conferences in the last twenty years, but never before have I felt renewed or rejuvenated physically and emotionally upon completion; on the contrary, on many occasions I needed a new retreat to rest from the previous retreat,” added Rev. Daniel Cali, another experienced leader. “The time with Hispanic Access was a special experience in which we were connected with God's creation and with the ministerial dialogue of so many pastors in a tone of friendship, respect and tolerance. The interaction was beautiful and highly productive, where we were able to share unique and profound experiences of all aspects of our ministerial and personal life. The retreat has recharged me in my personal and spiritual growth and development. It was a unique and historic time that I hope to experience again on another occasion.”

After an unfortunate year, hearing the feedback from the group of pastors felt rewarding and refreshing. 


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Hispanic Access Foundation connects Latinos and others with partners and opportunities to improve lives and create an equitable society.

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