Friday, July 30, 2010

Teens Encounter Christ weekend

This past weekend, I had the priviledge of working on the TEC #74 team for the Diocese of Evansville. It was an amazing experience! Seeing so many young people draw closer to Christ and deepen their faith touched me in many ways. Spending 3 days building community, laughing, praying, playing- what an awesome time! If you have an opportunity to make one, I highly recommend it!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A Monastic Adventure

Several weeks ago, Sr. Jill mentioned that she and I were heading out on a trip to the Benedictine Spirituality Workshop and Retreat (also known as BSWR). Well, we're home now and I wanted to write a little about that experience.

The program was in Bismarck, North Dakota, which happens to be about 1200 miles from Ferdinand, Indiana. But, being the intrepid people that we are, Sr. Jill and I asked our director and community treasurer if we could drive ourselves up north. Once we received that "yes", I immediately mapped out our route in a direction that would take us close to some fun sites (we spent a wonderful afternoon at Laura Ingalls Wilder's childhood homestead in DeSmet, South Dakota) but also kept us near other monasteries that so graciously offered us hospitality. So even though we were on the road, we continued to be able to pray and eat in community and, thanks to Mother of God Monastery's "Daisy Band", enjoy some excellent nighttime entertainment as well. We also made a great side trip to the University of Notre Dame where we got a tour and had an opportunity to spend some time with sisters who are studying there. I won't bore you with the lengthy details of the nearly 40 hours we spent in the car traveling there and back, but I will say that we only got lost twice... both times in Illinois! I found that impressive for two young sisters and I blame the state of Illinois for not labeling their roads the same way MapQuest does. It was certainly an adventure.

Once we got to Bismarck, the program was outstanding. True to the Benedictine way of life, the sisters of that monastery were some of the kindest, most hospitable people I have ever met. They invited us into their homes and hearts for three weeks as we experienced the BSWR program. Throughout those weeks, we spent two weeks in reflective study of the Benedictine rule and other monastic topics like humility, obedience, liturgy of the hours and lectio divina. The final week of the program was a silent retreat during which we had the time and space we each needed to become more grounded in Benedictine spirituality and hopefully to feel a deepening of our call to this life and to our own monasteries. The whole program was excellent. The sisters who presented to us conveyed a deep love for the Benedictine way of life and I feel like I gained so much from each of them. We also had a lot of time to reflect and chat with other program participants about our experience of monasticism.

And now we are home. Though I can honestly say that I loved the prairies of the North Dakota landscape more than I could ever have expected, I am so glad to be back home in southern Indiana. I missed my monastery and the sisters of my community and the prayer that we share together. As much as I enjoyed meeting new people and learning new things, I was so happy to return here to Ferdinand. So I end with a quote from my favorite movie, "There is no place like home."

Friday, July 2, 2010

Faith in Action

This week I helped lead a retreat for high schoolers called Faith in Action. Each day, our four teams of about ten students, one college-aged leader, and one adult leader headed out to different work sites, where we played games and did art with kids at a Boys and Girls Club, helped with Hispanic Ministry Vacation Bible School, painted at a youth shelter, visited and played games with the elderly, and cleared trails and a downed tree at Mount Saint Francis, the Franciscan retreat center where we stayed. Each day had a theme relating to the cross, and a morning talk set the tone for each day. In the evenings we had guided discussions to reflect on the meaning of what we'd experienced. We also created beautiful crosses out of copper with ever-so-patient Artist in Residence Guy Tedesco. It was an intense, sleep-deprived week of social justice work, but I loved seeing how the real-world experience of seeing Christ in others and nature touched these kids. They were a good reminder to me to be conscious of the presence of God "always and everywhere," as St. Benedict puts it.