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,” 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.” 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.”
A major theme of the retreat was the recognition of the role of each woman as a beloved daughter of God. Using humor and the power of story, Herbeck shared her discovery of Catholicism as a Jewish woman with examples of things that the Church “got from us.” She acknowledged the difficulty that her conversion had on her parents, and said that she sees herself today as a Jewish Catholic and that she, “hasn’t abandoned her faith, but through the sacraments, has enhanced it.”
The Rejoice! Women’s Retreat is a collaborative effort that is supported by the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend. Mary Glowaski, secretary of the Office of Evangelization spoke to the importance of not only the weekend for those in attendance but also the gratitude for those who gave of their time and effort to serve the Church in this way. “What I look forward to is that we continue to encourage women to use all of their gifts: their intellect, their wisdom, their voices to serve those in our diocese and in the work of our Church throughout the world.”
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