Last weekend I attended a young adult retreat sponsored by the local Diocese. It was held at a beautiful retreat center in a bucolic setting – replete with walking trails with the Stations of the Cross, several grottos and Silence. I would like to say that I was one of the young adults but, I don’t think I qualify in that category anymore. I was there to serve as a companion and Spiritual Director to the retreatants. I was deeply touched and impressed with their witness of faith and their quest to intentionally live lives of meaning and service.
It brought back memories of my first Spiritual Retreat at the Dominican Retreat in McLean, VA, many years ago. I was 21 years old, home for the summer from college and I really wanted to get out of the house for the weekend. Yes, I have to confess, the reason I went on my first retreat was more of an escape from the watchful eyes of my parents and less motivated by a great desire to grow in holiness.
God, it turned out, had other plans for the weekend. I believe that God called me to attend that retreat, at that particular time, and place. God wanted my undivided attention to speak to my heart. God has done that many times in my life, and every time it has been at the perfect time.
It has been 30 years since that first retreat and on September 1 I celebrated the 16th anniversary of my Perpetual Vows as a Dominican Sister. I often wonder why God called me to become a Sister. Why me? I was an ordinary person, living an ordinary life – and then God invited me to join in an extraordinary adventure – that of Religious Life.
I am not perfect. I fail many times each day – in charity, truth, forgiveness, and in not living up to my full potential. However, in the 24 years since I entered community I have been gifted in abundance – with opportunities to study, to travel, to be surrounded by women and men of great intelligence and holiness. To be a Dominican Sister is how God called me to be my best self.
It all began with an unexplainable desire to “get away from it all.” I acted on it and without realizing it I reached out and touched the hand of God. God has been leading me ever since.
I don’t know what impact the retreat last weekend had on the young adults who attended but, my prayer is that the blessings and insights they received will lead them on to living their very best lives with the guidance and support of God.