By Elsa Baughman
CHATAWA – During a weekend free of the rain we have been experiencing during this winter season, 24 women, former and present members of Jackson St. Therese Parish and a few of their friends, gathered at St. Mary of the Pines for a retreat focused on the task of “Finding Joy in Everything!”
And joy we found in the small and large group discussions, activities and presentations led by Karla Luke,
a member of St. Therese. Luke, who is the coordinator of operations and support services for the diocesan Office of Catholic Education. She centered her reflection on Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, The Joy of the Gospel.
Activities included an art project using mandalas and a version of the Stations of the Cross from the book “When Silence Falls” by Anna Burke. The booklet is designed for those questioning why they need to spend Lent meditating on Jesus’ suffering and crucifixion.
After learning about the significance of the mandalas, each participant colored one while meditating on suggestions which included, giving thanks for things in our life, asking for peace, direction, hope; saying the serenity prayer, feeling God’s peace or even daydreaming.
About her own experience, Mary Parker said, “To some of us, our comfort zones meant going back to using crayons and coloring the mandala, signifying the circle – that life is never ending, eternal life. It’s a praying with color. Each mandala was uniquely different just as each of us are on our own journeys and our lives lead us on different paths.”
She said what she liked most about this particular retreat was the reminder, “that we have to make choices every day of our lives. If we make the choice to allow the Lord to lead us and to find joy in each situation, we will have a peace and joy that sooner or later will come naturally. We put the stress in our lives; no one else can be held responsible. We can handle ANYTHING if we allow the Lord to lead us and make the right choices.”
For Cathy Eaves the retreat was about “the joy of each other’s company, food, fellowship, prayer, and rest. We learned and we created. And we were led by our fellow parishioner and friend, Karla Luke.”
St. Therese Parish has been holding this retreat at St. Mary of the Pines for more than 30 years.