By RENEE WEBB
WEST BEND – More than 40 women from the diocese attended a retreat featuring the stories of women in the Gospel as told from the perspective of diocesan parishioners.
Sponsored by the Catholic Women of the Sioux City Diocese, the retreat was held July 14 at Sts. Peter and Paul Church in West Bend. On Friday evening prior to the retreat, there was a concert with music provided by Chris Pariseu, followed by adoration. The retreat – Be: Still to Know, Open to Learn, Silent to Hear – centered on four talks with small group discussion and time interspersed for fellowship and reflection.
Robin Corzilius, president of the CWSCD, was pleased with the turnout.
“There was just the right amount of people,” she said, adding the mix of younger and older women in attendance was exciting. Through events like this, Corzilius noted “women find support and know they are not alone. They find affirmation in what they are doing in their own lives as they follow God.”
Sheila Stein of Fort Dodge enjoyed having the time to reflect on her faith.
“It’s nice to come together with other women from the diocese to have time to visit and listen to their stories,” she said. “It was nice to have quiet time away from the chaos outside. There was good conversation.”
As the day began, Corzilius told the women that in a world that seems so dark at times; God gives us a candle and a match but it is up to each person to light the match and bring some light into the world.
“Jesus is many things to us – Lord, savior, shepherd and king – but today we are going to focus on Jesus and our relationship with him. To foster a friendship with anyone, you have to spend time with them – talk to them and listen to him,” she said. “I hope today’s talks help you start a conversation with the Lord.”
The four talks – featuring women from the New Testament – all had encounters with Jesus. Corzilius reminded those in attendance the importance of nurturing their relationships with Jesus. She informed the women that the guest speakers, were not public speakers but were women just like they were who were inspired to share their stories.
The first talk was presented by Sue Dentlinger of Holy Name Parish in Marcus, who spoke about Elizabeth the mother of John the Baptist. The speaker noted they pulled women from the Bible who had been featured in the book Who Does He Say You Are.
Reflecting on Elizabeth’s struggle to have a child, Dentlinger asked the women if they ever had to wait a long time for something. She encouraged those present to stay strong and hold onto hope just as Elizabeth had.
The Hemorrhaging Woman was the focus of the talk by Cindy Klein of Granville. She relayed the woman’s story – bleeding for 12 years before reaching out in faith to touch the gown of Jesus.
“It’s about a woman who truly believed God would heal her,” said the speaker, who noted the story also is significant because Jesus spoke to her directly and it affirms he wants to know us personally. “Jesus wants to be our friend. He heals with intimacy. He heals by reminding us that we are completely known and completely loved.”
Judy Kummerfeldt of Germantown reflected on the roles of Martha and Mary. A convert, she said her journey to the Catholic faith was pretty long – 65 years.
In the story of Martha and Mary, Martha opened up her home to Jesus and his disciples. Martha was caught up in preparations of the meal while her sister Mary sat at the feet of Jesus to take in his teachings. This angered Martha, but Jesus assured her that Mary’s actions were wiser. Kummerfeldt reminded those present that even in church activities, women can become more absorbed in doing tasks rather than focusing on the spiritual elements.
The speaker asked the women to reflect upon “where can we sit at the feet of Jesus?” She reminded, “We all have spiritual gifts and they can give us a closer walk with Jesus, our Lord and savior.”
The final talk of the day centered on Mary Magdalene, delivered by Peg Wurth of Marcus. She acknowledged that like Mary Magdalene, most people have had difficult things to deal with in life.
Wurth, who spent part of her childhood in an Omaha orphanage, spoke of the freedom that comes with forgiveness – forgiving self and others.
“I am a child of God. All of us are children of God,” Wurth reminded the women. “He has never, ever abandoned us. He will not abandon us. All we need to do it reach out to him and ask him to be part of our lives.”
Mary Magdalene and the others featured from the Gospel, she noted, are good examples because they were ordinary women just like those at the retreat.
During their presentations, the speakers also gave tips for prayer and growing closer to Jesus such as calling upon saints for intercessions, praying during repetitious tasks and reading spiritual works.
“The speakers did an excellent job,” said Corzilius. “The Holy Spirit was using the women to convey the message.”
Knowing the benefits of women coming together to share their faith, Corzilius encouraged participants to host similar gathering in their own parishes. They could opt to open the events up to all women or the diocese or keep it just for those in their own parishes or clusters.
After each of the talks, women in small groups discussed questions that pertained to the women in the Gospel and how their personal experiences related.
The retreat concluded with Mass celebrated by Father Jim Tigges, who serves as the spiritual director for the group.