Before the holiday rush attempts to steal attention from the season, an opportunity for healing and hope will be offered for women at the fourth annual Rejoice Women’s Retreat Nov. 30 to Dec. 2 at the Lindenwood Retreat and Conference Center, Donaldson. Potential attendees have an invitation to come deepen their prayer and open their lives more fully to the action of the Holy Spirit.
Adoration, reconciliation, prayer, music, fellowship and a speaker are among the means to the desired end.
This year’s keynote speaker, Dr. Mary Healy, professor of sacred Scripture at Sacred Heart Major Seminary, Detroit, will speak throughout the weekend on the theme “Nothing Will Be Impossible for God.” Serving as general editor of the “Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture” and author of the volumes “The Gospel of Mark” and “Hebrews,” Healy said faith is a personal matter to her.
“The Holy Spirit and His gifts are far more than an academic matter for me,” she said. “They are what I have experienced and witnessed in operation. I have seen how they can dramatically change people’s lives, so I seek every day to walk more according to the Spirit and to use His gifts.”
A career of bringing together that personal nature of faith and the academic world of analysis led to Healy’s appointment as chairman of the Doctrinal Commission of International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Services in Rome. As a member of the Pentecostal-Catholic International Dialogue, she works with the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. The year 2014 saw her appointment to the Pontifical Biblical Commission — making her one of the first three women to ever operate in this capacity. Healy describes the role as “an honor, but certainly more than that, it is hard work!”
The commission is a group of 20 scholars who scour the sacred text regarding certain topics, mostly through an academic lens. In the last 25 years, only four documents have been released.
While maintaining clear respect for the magisterium, Healy said, “If you are Catholic, you have to be ecumenical.”
Healy was invited to the Rejoice retreat by St. Jude, South Bend, parishioner Jan Torma. Torma has been the primary organizer of the retreat since its inception, working with a committee. The Holy Spirit was the impetus of the idea, though, she said, “I felt in prayer that He wanted a women’s retreat in this diocese.”
Torma met Healy at a book table while attending a Renewal Ministries Gathering in Michigan. Based in Ann Arbor, Renewal Ministries fosters renewal and evangelization in the Catholic Church. With mission work in over 25 counties, multimedia publications and conferences, the organization’s webpage cites that its “aim is to strengthen and equip Catholics for evangelization and ministry in the power of the Holy Spirit.”
When they met, Torma had just finished reading a book with her in-home prayer group on healing — written by Healy — and wanted to thank the author. “It was one of the most balanced books on healing I have ever read,” she commented.
Obligations kept Healy from the 2017 retreat, but “we are grateful that she was able to accept the invitation for this year,” Torma said.
Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades encourages the experience. “The annual Rejoice retreat is a wonderful opportunity for the women of our diocese to get away from the busy and often hectic routine … to rest with the Lord,” he said. “It is a weekend of spiritual refreshment and a time to experience anew the love of Christ and the joy of discipleship.”
Marianne Dunne, parishioner at Our Lady of Good Hope, Fort Wayne, said the two Rejoice retreats she has attended fit that description. “This seems to be a perfect time to pull away and empty yourself of all the distractions of Christmas preparation,” she said. “You come home filled with a renewed spirit and able to more focus on the true meaning of the Christmas season.” She particularly enjoyed the music, and a visit by St. Nicholas to each woman who left her shoe outside the door. Dunne called registering for the retreat “an Advent gift” to oneself.
Beginning Sept. 17, all women of the Fort Wayne-South Bend diocese are welcome to register for $130 — with the exception of college women, who pay $95. The fee includes everything but the cost of lodging. After Oct. 20, women from outside the diocese are invited to register, space permitting. A total of 160 participants can be accommodated. Nursing babies are welcome at the event.
Commuting during the retreat is possible; for those who would like lodging, however, the Lindenwood center has space for 100 attendees. For both nights of the retreat, a double room is $86 and a single room is $136 per person. Two ADA-compliant rooms are available. A block of hotel rooms also is being held at the Plymouth Holiday Inn for one to four occupants per room. For registration, more information on the retreat center’s rooms, the Holiday Inn and a group of women from nearby St. Michael Parish who are opening their homes to lodgers, please visit the event web site, www.diocesefwsb.org/rejoice.
In addition to one’s Bible, rosary and a journal, Torma said that attendees need bring very little to the retreat, just “themselves, and especially their hearts.”
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