Written on: March 30, 2016
Our Motherhouse welcomed more than 60 women— Associates, relatives, friends, neighbors, colleagues, and a few newcomers— to our annual women’s retreat on March 12th. The theme, Mercy and Forgiveness, seemed both fitting in this Jubilee Year of Mercy proclaimed by Pope Francis and meaningful to all who attended as well as the local area community who planned it. Sisters Marlene Butler, Kate Woody, Rita Margraff and Mary Lee Farrell shared reflections on the theme, reaching into the Old and New Testament and the “scriptures” of our own lives for personalities and situations that illustrate God’s boundless capacity for mercy and our own call to become “divine” when forgiveness seems beyond human abilities.
David’s story, the Old and New Testament Josephs, and the woman the Pharisees are about to stone to death for adultery gave us ample material to contemplate.
Silence and music complemented the presentations and, of course, Sacred Heart chapel provides a sacred space that is truly holy ground for all who pray there. Challenging words from Pope Francis about reconciliation, and real life stories recounted by Father James Martin, SJ in his book, Seven Last Words, invited us to go to God with our own need to forgive and be forgiven.
After a relaxing lunch in Grey Nun Academy’s Raphael Room, we returned to chapel for closing prayer. Holding a stone to remind us of Jesus’ words, “Let the one without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her,” each one spent a few minutes in the front of chapel at the foot of the cross and then left the stone behind. Lyrics to hymns played during that time included these:
“He did not crush the bruised reed;
in Jesus’ name, can we not do the same?”
“Jesus, heal us, Jesus. Jesus, hear us now!”
Sister Eileen White shared, “I for one, found it very moving to stand there in silent prayer myself and to see so many other women of deep faith open themselves to God’s love and mercy.”
As we bid farewell to the retreatants, we promised to find ways to continue the tradition of this annual women’s retreat, of sharing the spirituality we have been privileged to receive and to nurture as Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart.