by Maryann Donohue-Lynch
Narragansett, RI – “Listening with our hearts to transform the world” was the theme for the sixth annual DENA Women’s Retreat held at Christian Brother’s Center, Narragansett, RI the weekend of April 13-15th. The final report from the Lasallian Global Women’s Symposium and Lasallian Reflection #3 served as the foundational Lasallian documents for the retreat. However, as always the true inspiration that emerged for those gathered are the lives and experiences of the participants engaged in living their vocational commitment to the Lasallian mission.
The group of women that were in attendance spanned 70 years of life and over 100 years of service to the Lasallian mission of providing education and social services to those in need. This year the group was blessed to welcome women who are currently serving as Lasallian Volunteers. Friday evening was focused on the women telling their stories of how they were invited into the Lasallian mission, what their experience has been, and who inspired and/or continues to inspire them in their lives. Saturday morning focused on the practice of prayerful mindfulness. In our busy lives we all have the need to take time, to pause for a few minutes or longer to remember that “we are in the holy presence of God.” The practice of centering prayer, deep breathing and journaling are all expressions of way that we can enter into a space of “being” and “of presence.”
The Saturday afternoon of the retreat has traditionally been a time for personal time or “Sabbath time” as the group warmly refers to it. It is a time of rest, re-creation and the deepening of the community experience. Sabbath time concluded with an opportunity to create a personal Vision Board. As the retreat continued into Saturday night another tradition has been the Saturday night movie that calls us to consider its message through a “Lasallian lens.” This year’s movie was “The Greatest Showman.” As we gathered for Sunday’s final community prayer circle, we shared our Vision Boards and engaged in conversation regarding the outcomes of the Lasallian Women’s Global Symposium. There were a number of creative and inspiring suggestions as to how we in DENA can give life to the Symposium’s outcomes. The dates for next year’s retreat are April 5-7, 2019 and will have a special focus for the Year of Lasallian Vocations and the role of Women in the Founding story—especially the women of Rouen, France.
For now we invite you to read below participant reflections regarding the retreat.
In the words of Brother Robert Schieler in attending the Lasallian Global Women’s Symposium (2017) “I have come primarily to attentively listen to your shared wisdom and experience. My desire during these days with you is to listen, reflect and learn. I hope to leave this symposium inspired, motivated and challenged by your questions and insights.” These words, for me, reflect the spirit of the 2018 Lasallian Women’s Retreat that I had the honor to share. We, younger and older, listened respectfully to Maryann, as she walked us through the weekend. In turn, we reflected and learned how to best implement the findings of the Global Women’s inspired thoughts. Mindfulness, trust, respect, insights, intuitions, joy and loving transformation were the fruits of our labors. I would add: some highly creative use of the Sabbath Time to build and bond with each other. In gratitude for the invitation.
Marianne (Legacy Lasallian)
“This past weekend was very relaxing and peaceful. I never practiced mindfulness and it was a great experience to take part in and learn a little about. I hope to take what I have gained this weekend to help me grow more in community, ministry, and most important myself.”
“For me, this past weekend retreat as has been in the past, an opportunity to literally slow myself down! To be open to hear experiences from other women who come with a tremendous amount of loving and shared mission work that I would not have known. I always feel so safe and humbly when gathering around the “great room” or the dining room, walks to the cemetery, walks to the beach, visits to the beautiful chapel, to either listen or share inspirational words from the women who come to share on the weekend. I leave motivated and challenged to find new ways to participate in our shared mission.”
Anna (Legacy Lasallian)
“The DENA Women’s retreat not only allowed me to connect with other Lasallian women, but it also allowed me to connect with myself. Through meditations on mindfulness as well as creating a vision board, I was able to really get in touch with myself again. I left Narragansett with a full heart and new strategies to empower myself as well as others.”
“This weekend offered me the opportunity to share with women similar challenges that we face in community today. It was such a safe and comfortable environment to be able to let down our guard and be real with each other. I found it to be a weekend of inspiration and fun with the ability to connect and bond with women not only of my own age but with the youth of today. Thank you for this wonderful opportunity!”
Michele (Tides Family Services)