Maryann reflects on her participation in "Valued, Valid, Vibrant: Experience Joy with the Ursulines," a retreat for young professional women to engage with us and our ministries.
Snow swirled across the road like wisps of smoke, illuminating in the headlight beams then fading into the night. I had begun my drive to Angela's Villa in Youngstown after a busy day at work and the momentum of the day propelled me. My thoughts spun like the wind-whipped snow.
The first full day of our retreat continued at a quick pace as we visited a variety of ministries. Who would Jesus serve today? That question, we learned, was what founded the Ursuline Sisters HIV/AIDS Ministry twenty-five years ago. That question was also answered in the story of the immigrant creating a life for her family in America, and in the story of a mother and her two daughters who left a shelter in Cleveland to seek the support of Beatitude House.
We had opened a book in the middle and were turning page after page, engaged in a beautiful and touching story. But, like all stories, it had a beginning. As the first day drew to a close, the pages stopped turning and we flipped back to page one. Sister Regina Rogers met with us after dinner to share the history of religious life, beginning with Jesus’ disciples. She described the changes in social norms and people’s needs over the centuries, connected by a constant commitment to serve the poor and grow in faith. We listened to the issues that confronted previous generations, then took some time to consider the issues that pervade our own world.
The second day of our retreat gave us the chance to pause the flipping pages in our own lives and turn back to page one. During our Spirituality and Gospel Service experience with Sister Patricia McNicholas, we were invited to consider the earliest roots of faith and service in our lives. Later that afternoon, we created mandalas, an art form founded in circles. The twists and turns met back at the beginning.
When we joined in prayer, Sister Norma Raupple, Ursuline Sisters of Youngstown Vocations Director, suggested we pause between each stanza and share how we saw St. Angela Merici’s vision reflected in today’s world. We prayed to Angela, the pilgrim, peacemaker and founder of the Ursuline Sisters, then prayed for the beauty of diversity in our world. With Angela, we prayed for women of love and joy, and for all those who are discerning.
It was a weekend of energy and a weekend of rest. By the time I left Youngstown on Sunday afternoon, the snow had melted and the wind had stilled. My path back home was lit by sunshine.
This reflection also appears on Maryann’s blog Like a Piazza.