On January 24, twenty-seven young women and Sisters gathered for a day of prayer and discussion about discernment and Religious life. We began at the Dominican Sisters' convent where we were treated to hospitality that included a tour of the Sisters' residence and day care. Then we walked across the street to Our Lady Queen of Peace Polish Church for the celebration of Mass. Fr. Sebastian Szewczyk, SDS preached enthusiastically on the reading from the Book of Jonah and encouraged us to answer the call of the Lord.
Sr. Anne Marie Walsh, FCJ, gave a practical talk about discernment of the Lord's will following the insights of St. Ignatius Loyola. She clarified how the awareness examen; silence and prayer; interior freedom; growth in humility and self-knowledge; and listening within oneself aids in the discernment of God's will. She also explained how to practice the awareness examen on a daily basis to develop our ability to hear the Lord when He speaks to us. This included being aware of God's presence; asking for openness to the Holy Spirit; expressing gratitude while reflecting on one's experience of the day; and asking for help and guidance for tomorrow.
One Sister from each of the six communities present (Dominicans; Society in the Image of the Triune God; Faithful Companions of Jesus; Congregation of Sisters of Our Merciful Jesus; Sisters of Providence; and the Franciscan Sisters of St. Elizabeth shared a little of the history of their respective orders and of their own personal vocations. Some of the points made included the importance of having quiet times to listen to what is going on within one's heart in order to learn how God is calling; the role of prayer in discernment; how God can speak to us in our dreams; the value of having a spiritual guide or mentor;and finally how to discover communities with that share a charism that resonates with your gifts.
The day was interspersed with quiet prayer in the church before the Blessed Sacrament, and the communal praying of the Divine Mercy Chaplet. The final prayer of the day was a guided Scriptural meditation led by Fanny Tamegnon from the planning team. In their evaluation of the retreat day, the participants expressed appreciation for the tour of the convent and the hospitality of the Dominican Sisters, including their home cooking.
Responding to the requests of the young women, the Sisters are in the process of arranging a monthly schedule for visits to the different convents. The young women also asked for a bi-weekly vocation support group for those actively discerning the call of the Lord in their lives. Information about these events can be found on the Facebook page set up by Karla Subero from the planning team.
Displays and brochures from the various Religious communities of the Calgary Diocese offered an opportunity for the women to learn more about the Sisters. Information on the communities of the Diocese can be accessed at www.calgarydiocese.ca/vocations.html
The next event planned for the Year for Consecrated Life is open to men and women. March 13, 2015 for information and visit www.facebook.com/calgaryvocationsretreat for more details.