“What must we do to accomplish the works of God?” Jesus answered and said to them,
“This is the work of God, that you believe in the one he sent.” John 6:28-29
It was a weekend filled with prayer, personal sharing, laughter and tears. The Fifth Annual Associates Retreat held at the Dominican Retreat House in McLean, VA, was also a weekend of beginnings and endings. The Planning Committee (Associates Linda Goff-VA, Patricia Elizabeth Kelly-Evans- PA, Ginger Kroos – KS, Muriel Laliberte-VA, Barbara Madigan- PA, Jackie Paluszak-OH, Deborah Stilson- NY, Joanne Thomas-PA)designed a retreat to engage the 35 participants in deep listening, group sharing, artistic expression and time for contemplative walks and quiet personal reflection.
The scripture passage from John’s Gospel was central to the theme which explored the Dominican ‘Fourth Pillar-Finding Our Ministry.’ Concepts from Richard Rohr’s premise in Immortal Diamond: The Search For Our True Self focused attention on the searching for our inner self and separating it from the negative parts of our ego. Participants looked at the masks that we wear through a creative exercise of designing and then the next day redesigning a personal mask based upon new self -knowledge. The cracked ceramic masks placed throughout the room were reminders during the retreat that our EGO(which sometimes means “edging God out”) needs to be displaced in order to give God the opportunity to enter through the cracks and transform us.
A presentation and discussion on biblical images of ministry vividly illustrated the process that Ruth, Matthew, Moses, Noah, Esther, Mary and others experienced as new beginnings, the extraordinary with in the ordinary, their obedience in faith and the resulting harvest of profound transformation for themselves and others. One prayer service was woven with the theme of “living water” and concluded by tossing pebbles into a bowl to produce the ripples of intersection we create in our ministries. Another service emphasized the fact that we are all called to act with justice, to serve, to walk humbly with God knowing that the God of gentleness, wonder, compassion and love is always drawing us close.
One highlight of the weekend was the Associates Commitment Ceremony to welcome a new Associate Thea Luria for her initial commitment and Associates Alice Berney, Maureen Critchley, Angela Dinkle, Linda Goff, Karen Hurley, Muriel Laliberte, Rosemary Melnick, and Ginny Talbott to renew a four year commitment. The conclusion of the ceremony was a special recognition of the mentoring and love that the Dominican Sisters in the Dominican Retreat House gave so generously for so many years to the Associates and others. This final retreat in the Dominican Retreat House was an ending event, but the enthusiasm and resolve of the community of area Associates and their new friendships with other Associates marked the beginning of the next page in Associate life for them. Click here for photos from the retreat.
The personal insights and reflections of the Associates tell the larger story of what happened at this retreat. Please listen with your heart to excerpts of their comments:
“Until now, I did not realize that I was wearing a mask. Yes, I did, it was a mask of survival. But now it is a mask of Jesus Christ. I can do all things through Christ who is my strength.” M.D. “The retreat was well crafted and full of ideas for renewal. I learned to place myself in God’s hands.” T.B.
“The many masks I’ve worn came to the surface, but now I know how to wear the Jesus mask!” A.D.
“I spent much time reading the Sunday scripture in preparation for my preaching and experienced them on a much deeper level. I was being called to believe in Jesus to my core and trust him enough to take a risk.” D.S.
“On Saturday morning as I walked the grounds, the trees and sky and tiny ants on a green leafy plant spoke to me of the wonder of God. One thing that struck me was the fact that associates traveled long distances to gather and connect through a shared spirituality. Different characters, many backgrounds and stories, but one Faith and a shared interest in fostering that Dominican flame.” A.B.
“I was totally impressed with the presentations and presenters who were well prepared, uplifting and thought provoking.” R.M.
“My appreciation goes to those who traveled miles to be with the McLean VA Associates.” M.C.
“One of my favorite sessions was the discussion on the biblical characters which focused me on the 4th Dominican pillar of Ministry.” M.K.
“Spending the weekend with Dominican Family is always a joy.” J.P.