Retreat renews spirit for ministry
By RENEE WEBB, Globe editor
Posted May 22, 2003
As the end of the year winds down, about 30 parish directors of religious
education (DREs), youth ministers and pastoral ministers took time away from
their busy schedules for personal spiritual enrichment at the annual overnight
retreat sponsored by the diocese.
Held May 12 and 13 at Camp Okoboji, Linda Anderson, director of catechesis
for the diocese, pointed out that this was one of the best attended spring
"There were a number of people that told me they almost didn't come
because they were down or didn't have any energy, but I don't know how many told
me it was just what they needed," she said.
The retreat was facilitated by Ellen Soukup, a contemporary Christian music
singer and songwriter from Lincoln. She offered a mix of personal witness
stories and song.
"She had a beautiful message through her words and her music. She also
has her own wonderful spirituality," said Anderson. "She is a very
down-to-earth person with a wonderful sense of humor."
Linda Neppl, youth minister at St. Patrick Church in Estherville, pointed out
that this was the first time she has attended the overnight retreat. She
compared it to going to the doctor for a shot to feel better. The retreat, she
described, was like a shot in the arm that renewed her for ministry.
"Hearing what other parishes are doing was really affirming. It helped
me to know that I am on the right track," said Neppl, who pointed out that
they do not always hear feedback about their programs.
Like many of the attendees, Neppl purchased Soukas CDs and listens to them
regularly, taking her back to the mood of the retreat.
Jan Crowe, DRE at Ss. Peter and Paul in West Bend and St. Mary's in Mallard,
pointed out that this was the first year she made time to attend this retreat
and at the last time she almost backed out. She's happy she went.
"It was absolutely fabulous," she said. "The presenter was so
good, she touched all of our hearts. It was exactly what I needed to recharge my
batteries and helped me recommit to the ministry. Whoever organized it, deserves
roses and rosaries."
Crowe also found value in getting to visit with others to gain new ideas as
well as learn of other program successes and challenges.
"It was definitely food for the soul," she said.
Marie Washburn, DRE from St. Michael's in Kingsley, described it as awesome
and added that it was the best DRE spring retreat that she has attended.
"After being emptied all year long, you need to be filled back up,"
she explained. "It was worth the time taken away from my family to go
She extended gratitude to the personnel from the diocesan office - Anderson,
Stephan Davis and Judy Forrest - for their efforts and work in offering the
Anderson pointed out that the overall focus of the retreat was not for
education but was for spiritual refreshment, renewal and community building.
Along with musical sessions by Soukup, the retreat offered opportunities for
community prayer as well as time for personal reflection. While the weather was
cool, it was warm enough to go for walks along the lake.