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What does a Come and See weekend retreat mean to you?

Blog by Sr. Mai Dung Nguyen, OP

Have you seen a flyer or advertisement for a “Come and See” weekend retreat posted on a campus, church bulletin, Facebook Page, or other social media platform, what is your first reaction?  Do you know what “Come and See” means and what it’s like if you attend one?

Our Dominican Sisters of Peace community offers “Come and See” retreat weekends two times per year, usually in the Spring and in September in various locations. Each retreat has a slightly different theme related to discernment or some aspect of living religious life. Last weekend, the sisters and staff at our Motherhouse in Akron, OH, joyfully welcomed six retreatants for the “Come and See” weekend retreat.  The theme was, “To Praise, To Bless, and To Preach” which is one of our Dominican mottos. During the retreat, each retreatant was accompanied by a sister for deep spiritual sharing which she might not have felt comfortable to share in a large setting.

Sr. Amy McFrederick helped us to understand that “To Praise” is to be aware and to be engaged with God’s presence within us and around us. “Praise” goes beyond traditional prayer and can be expressed in music, poetry, and physical prayer postures like “The Nine Ways of Prayer of St. Dominic.”

Sr. Barbara Catalano and Sr. Barbara Kane spoke about the motto, “To Bless” and shared with us their ministries (human trafficking, peace and social justice issues, etc.) and how they are blessed by their ministries and how they seek to bless others to whom they minister. “To bless” includes how we are blessed and how we become a blessing to each other and to all God’s creation.

Finally, when focusing on the motto “To Preach,” Sr. Mary Ann Wiesemann-Mills led us beyond the image of preaching at a pulpit to how we are to become daily witnesses of the Living Word by being fully who we are. She said we should be an event of the self-communication of God and allow God to communicate to and through us freely.

Besides these talks, reflections, and sharing, retreatants had time to observe and interact with sisters and staff during the breaks, meals, prayers, and social times. Besides praying the Liturgy of the Hours with our sisters, we participated in a Taize Prayer and a version of the Stations of the Cross that focused on “All of Creation”.

Addition to that, Sr. Diana Culbertson took us on a tour to learn about the history of the Dominican Sisters in Akron and Sr. Maura Bartel guided us through Our Lady of the Elms High School, which is one of our Founded Ministries. Our retreat also included activities such as making care packages for the homeless. We were all invited to a pizza party at one of the local convents with Sr. Amy McFrederick and Sr. Barbara Catalano on Saturday evening.

At our closing session on Sunday, each retreatant was blessed by her sister-companion and received a candle as a symbol of the light of Christ we are to carry out to the world. The retreatants also had the opportunity to express how they were blessed by the retreat. One woman shared that she has attended three “Come and See” retreats and has received different blessings each time. Another stated in her evaluation that “…you all showed me much caring, love and joy while I was visiting in Akron. God is very evident in your lives and in your ministries. I left with much to pray about and much to discern.”  A third retreatant said that even in the kitchen staff she could see the joy and peace in the way they served and interacted with each person. Several women shared that they came for clarity and that they were leaving the retreat affirmed and ‘things clarified.’

I, myself, was deeply touched by the Living Word shared in each sister’s presentation and the retreatants. One of the presenters shared that during this weekend, she felt reaffirmed and blessed by her decision to become a Dominican Sister of Peace. How wonderful to hear such feelings and feedback?

Thank you to all (sisters, staff and retreatants) who helped to make this “Come and See” retreat such a success.

Please consider joining us for our next “Come and See” retreat so you can experience a taste of how sisters live out their lives in community, prayer, ministry and study. Each time you attend, you will receive greater clarification of how God is calling you.

We have other opportunities for you to discern with us, such as our monthly on-line discernment group, our mission immersion week (June 1-5 in Columbus OH), and one-on-one conversations with our Vocation Ministers.  To begin the journey, contact us here.

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