By Kay Cozad
LaGRANGE — St. Joseph Parish’s newly constructed activity center was put to good use on Saturday, Sept. 19, when over 200 enthusiastic women crowded the hall for the second annual Women’s Day of Prayer. The program, offered to all women of the diocese, was sponsored by the diocesan Office of Spiritual Development and Evangelization.
The sun lit morning began with introductions over a continental breakfast, prayer and hymns. The keynote speaker, Sister of St. Joseph Sister Anne D’Arcy, sister of Bishop John M. D’Arcy, spoke with humor and passion about answering the call to be in relationship with God. And prayer, she said, is a “conscious relationship with God.”
Sister Anne, who is the associate director of the Office of Worship and Spiritual Life in Boston, shared her own personal experiences of prayer, relating the blessings she received in nature as well as when she sat with her sister Mary as she lay dying.
“We can encounter him anywhere,” she said of meeting God. And she added that “we come as we are” with concerns, questions and life.
Scripture, she said, is the place to begin to know God better. “It gives us power to have those words that touch our minds and hearts.” But, she added, prayer doesn’t always require words. “We need silence in our lives. And even in the spaces of silence, the noises within us need to be quiet. In quiet I face who I am,” she said.
And listening to the still small voice of God in the silence can bring surprising answers. “Prayer doesn’t always change the situation in life, But it changes us!” she said. A guided meditation closed the inspired talk.
Following Sister D’Arcy’s keynote, the participants had the opportunity to participate in two morning sessions, by choosing one of six prayer workshops presented by other inspirational women of the diocese. Presentations included talks on the rosary, the liturgy of the hours, Lectio Divino, meditation, imaginative prayer and music as prayer.
The attentive participants, both young and old, who traveled from all corners of the diocese to enrich their understanding of prayer took time to share a boxed lunch, mingle and process their thoughts.
“It’s been very good.” said Peg Crouch of Immaculate Conception in Auburn. “We went to two different workshops that were informative and interesting.”
Fellow Immaculate Conception parishioner, Melody Rolston added, “I have seen a lot of people get emotional. It has brought out a lot of spirituality in them that they hadn’t had before. There can’t ever be enough prayer.”
Mary Froning of St. Anthony de Padua Parish in South Bend said, “This day is a beautiful opportunity to pray. And with all these women from around the diocese it reminds us that we’re part of a bigger community.”
And Sharon Jump from St. Aloysius Parish in Yoder said, “This is a time I needed in life. It helped me to focus back on prayer.”
Friar Mark Weaver, pastor of St. Joseph Parish, was pleased to host the program and was encouraged to have so many of his parishioners attend. “The ladies are very pleased,” he said. “It’s nice having something right here. And it’s neat to have all these people from all around the diocese so full of life and part of something big.”
One of his parishioners, Anna Jack, was thrilled that she didn’t have to travel for the program and said, “It was nice to have it in this nice facility, and we were happy to invite all the ladies. I’m pleased with the turn out.”
After lunch, Sister D’Arcy brought the program back to focus with her second reflection on prayer that included small and large group discussions where hearts and emotions were shared freely.
Bishop D’Arcy arrived and was welcomed by the crowd before time for exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and though the day was focused on the importance of prayer, the frivolity and banter between the bishop and his sister was not lost on the delighted crowd.
Eucharistic adoration within the sanctuary of St. Joseph allowed the reverent women to experience that quiet time the presenters had encouraged, followed by a short time for reconciliation and celebration of Mass.
Friar Weaver concelebrated with Bishop D’Arcy who spoke, as his sister had, on the importance of coming to God in prayer “just as we are.”
The participants were treated to a receiving line following the close of Mass and the program, where they were able to meet and speak with Bishop D’Arcy.
Of the uplifting day Sister D’Arcy said, “It was amazing to see 230 women meeting Christ in prayer.”A
The best news. Delivered to your inbox.
Subscribe to our mailing list today.