By Cindy Black
“You all have gifts God has given you that are needed by a world where faith is decreasing” Sister Ann Shields of Renewal Ministries exhorted 134 women from 35 parishes who gathered at Lindenwood Center at Donaldson for the Rejoice Women’s retreat. This third annual advent retreat was co-organized by Jan Torma, Carol Miller, Nancy McCue in South Bend and Mary Glowaski and Cecilia Aguilar-Tussey, both of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend.
Sister Ann encouraged each woman to read (aloud if possible) 1 Peter 1:3-9 every day during Advent so that we are convicted and transformed by God’s word. Between Sister Ann’s enamoring reflections, retreatants sang worship songs, prayed, went to confession, and socialized.
On Saturday night, Bishop Kevin Rhoades led Eucharistic Adoration with a theologically deep lectio divina of the prologue of Saint John’s Gospel, including John 1:14 which Bishop said is “the most important verse in the entire Bible.”
Mary Glowaski pointed out that the Incarnation was a theme that emerged in every talk, even though Sister Ann and the priests did not consult with one another about their reflections. Glowaski further remarked “Even though there was no room in the inn, God still came among us. Now the gift of faith dwells within each of us. We say we believe in God, do our lives look like we believe in God?”
Kris from St Therese Little Flower, South Bend was reluctant to attend. Through meeting several women with whom she has a common bond and listening to Sister’s talks, Kris shared that God opened her heart and gave her deep peace concerning some struggles she was facing. Lisa from St Vincent’s, Fort Wayne plans to ask God what she can give him this Advent by responding to one way she can share His light with others.
Just before Sister Ann’s departure, Jan Torma facilitated praying over the beloved retreat master. The women retreatants were invited to spontaneously share a word that comes to mind. With bowed heads voices of women from throughout the room rose in varying tones: “Faithful…wisdom…hope…genuine…prayer…openness…daughters of the Father…humility…communion…gifts…serve…joy”…all words that were not only spoken during this Rejoice retreat, but truly experienced.
Leading us on the rosary prayer. Left to right: Carol Miller - St. Matthew Cathedral, Rebecca Laurent - St. Jude, SB, Eileen Byrne - Sacred Heart, Crypt (ND), Jean Shaw - Sacred Heart of Jesus, Lakeville and Judy Finkler - St. Jude, SB
By Stephanie A. Patka
Standing at the registration table of the second annual Rejoice! Women's Retreat seemed more like a family reunion than women checking in for a religious conference. Women from 31 parishes around the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, totaling 112, arrived at Lindenwood Retreat Center on Dec. 2 for a weekend retreat to grow in their spiritual life, to be strengthened, encouraged, to reconnect with the Lord on a deeper level and to cultivate a greater love for Mary.
"I was really gratified with the way in which the women came to this retreat, they were happy to be here, joyful and so eager. They were here, ready to sit at the feet of Jesus,â€ said retreat organizer Jan Torma. She reported that at least half of the women attending had come to the first retreat last year with the speaker Sister Ann Shields.
Upon recommendation of Sister Ann, nationally renowed speaker and founder of Be Love Revolution, Debbie Herbeck shared her own conversion story from Judaism to Catholicism. Herbeck spoke about her experience to show "just how merciful God has been to me in my own life.â€ She told retreat participants that "there is nothing that you do to make God love you more and there is nothing that you can do to make Him love you less.â€
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"A Company of Women" is the name of a diocesan Women's Ministry group formed in the summer of 2013 as a grass roots effort to reach out to all women. The group is comprised of women from different parishes across the diocese and is supported by diocesan staff. This core group of volunteers would love to see the numbers grow to represent all areas of the diocese. Currently the members come from parishes in South Bend, Elkhart and Fort Wayne.
Catholic women from various parishes in the Fort Wayne-South Bend Diocese who:
"A Company of Women" is dedicated to building a community of faithful, Catholic women. We invite all women to participate in the Sacramental life of the Church, witness the message of Jesus to all, encourage and empower others to grow rich in their faith and uphold the dignity and value of all people by living as devout and prayerful Catholic women.
The patron saint for "A Company of Women" is St. Angela Merici, a 1600 century nun who is credited with starting the first group of women religious to work outside the cloister and the first teaching order of women. In a time where young women grew up without education and religion, Sr. Angela inspired women to go out, gather girls to meet in their homes and teach them together.
Read more about St. Angela Merici
Prayer to St. Angela
Saint Angela, you were not afraid of change. You did not let stereotypes keep you from serving.
Help us to overcome our fear of change in order to follow God's call and allow others to follow theirs.
Intercede for us so that eyes of faith may animate our physical sight and provide us with the courage
to see the needs of those around us. May the Holy Spirit sustain and fortify our vision,
so that rather than seeing only what we wish to see, we can see the needs of the world,
and see the ways we can devote ourselves to offering solutions. Amen
On Sunday, April 27th, women from around the diocese gathered at three locations – St. Anthony de Padua in South Bend, St. John the Evangelist in Goshen and St. Mary in Fort Wayne for an evening of Prayer, Reflection, and Adoration. The event was designed to bring English & Spanish speaking women together to pray and build community. More than 150 women representing twenty different parishes attended one of the three locations. The evening was planned by a newly formed group called "A Company of Women"
The evening began at 6:00pm with an opportunity to meet one another and enjoy light refreshments. At 6:30, women were given the choice to listen to a Spanish or English speaker offer a reflection on the theme "Leaving the Tomb", followed by time to either gather in small groups to discuss theme or to process the message individually in the quiet of the church. The last hour of the evening was devoted to Eucharistic Adoration. Below are some of the comments received:
"Thank you so much for putting on this evening. It came at a time when I needed it most. I have been looking for ways to reach out and be part of a larger faith community. I was a little unsure of the small group discussion, but everyone was very open and I heard some things I needed to hear" – Barbara, FW
"Thank you for a beautiful evening. I hope and pray that this will keep going and grow. Keep up the wonderful work, so far you are on the right track." - Vicky, SB
"I am glad that I came. The lady that gave the talk was great. She made me see new things I never thought of. Thank you for welcoming me" - Teresa, SB
"I enjoyed the small group sharing very much. I would definitely attend another gathering with this same concept." - Veronica, Goshen
"I really enjoyed the reflection portion & Adoration. Would love to do this 2-3 times a year," - Jude, Goshen
"Very nice, quiet time, I loved the time to meditate "– Nancy, Goshen