Associate Retreat and Covenant Ceremony

 

It was a busy couple of weeks here in the NE corner of Connecticut! It all began on a crisp, sunny St.Patrick’s Day when 9 Associates: Nancy Berube, Muriel Bingham, Mary Lynne Catsam, Lorena Dutelle, Juliana Ekeson, Belle Henzel, Pat Krodel, Linda Lamoureux and Sandra Zadora along with 4 candidates: Diane Lavallee, Deborah Raymond, Jean Ryan and Peg Wilson joined Sr. Lorraine Duval and our presenter, Sr. Marian St. Marie at the Immaculate Conception Retreat Center to spend time together in fellowship, prayer and reflection. Following 4 o’clock Mass at St. Mary of the Visitation Church, during which Associate Linda Lamoureux was commentator, it was off to The Golden Greek for a relaxing and conversation-filled dinner. Upon our return to the Center, we gathered in the community room for our first session.

Sr. Marian read 4 passages from the Passion of our Lord according to John, which included Pilate’s comment regarding the sign on the cross above Jesus’ head, Jesus’ words to John and to his mother, Mary, Jesus’ words, “I am thirsty,“ and the person of Joseph of Arimethea. After our time of reflection, there was much heartfelt discussion, even though the hour was late.  However, Sr. Marian then gave us homework! She offered us two options, including crayons and color pencils, for creating a symbol that depicted what the Cross of Christ personally meant to each of us. A challenge, indeed, however, we had time to reflect, create and sleep since this symbol would not be needed until our closing prayer the next day.

Sunday morning began with a hearty breakfast after which Sr. Marian challenged us once again with a reflection entitled A CLOSE COMPANION, 9 short sections, each one beginning with “I remember a man…” It was a very poignant depiction of the Man Jesus: who he was, how he lived his mission and faced his death and what he left behind…the challenge for us to live a life of love, faith and freedom. Once again discussion centered around passages that touched us in a special way. It was interesting and enlightening how our own life experiences evoked different responses, feelings and interpretations.

After a short break, Sr. Marian apparently wanted us to dig even deeper into our hearts during our next session. She gave us a handout entitled WHOM DO YOU IDENTIFY YOURSELF WITH IN THE PASSION OF CHRIST? This was an intriguing question! We had four descriptions to ponder: the actions of the disciples, Peter‘s behavior, one the surrounding crowd, and John’s decisions. Each one helped us to take a hard look at ourselves. Do I fit within just one of the examples or am I a combination of more than one?  It was not an easy task. Through our sharing, it was evident that each of us had done a lot of soul-searching, including observations of our individual personalities.   

Once we enjoyed a delightful lunch prepared by the staff, we gathered again to complete our afternoon with a prayer service. Sr. Marian chose an instrumental version of WERE YOU THERE? for a quiet settling in. A reflection was read and we all participated in reading responses. It was then time to prayerfully present our created symbols to our Lord, placing them in a basket before a beautiful “Cross of Life” that had been our focal point during all of our sessions. It had been a gift to Sr. Marian.

Sr. Marian had worked long and hard to prepare this retreat for us. It was very prayerful and reflective and we thank her for what she gave to us, for what we received, and for helping us give to one another. But although we were sorry to see the weekend come to a close, the story does not end here.

The following Sunday, Palm Sunday, dawned with great anticipation for our DHS family…Sisters, Seculars, Associates, families and friends…gathered at the Provincial House to celebrate the liturgy and to welcome 4 Associate candidates.  Fr. Ed Dempsey graciously agreed to celebrate Palm Sunday Mass for us, which added a very special meaning to the day as Diane Lavallee, Deborah Raymond, Jean Ryan and Peg Wilson publicly pronounced their desire to become DHS Associates. Each read her Covenant Statement, a testimony to a personal faith journey leading to this moment of commitment. It was inspiring to hear their stories and to witness their faith. Sr. Gertrude Lanouette presided over the signing of their Covenants and presented them a copy of the Associate Rule of Life. Associate Co-directors Muriel Bingham and Pat Krodel placed the traditional DOVES around each new member's neck as the symbol of their membership. Afterwards, there was much congratulating, hugs and kisses all around as we convened to the dining room for refreshments and fellowship.  It was certainly a blessing-filled two weeks for our entire DHS family!

Pat Krodel, DHS Associate co-director East Coast

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