As familiar as budding flowers and warming temperatures, a sure sign of spring each year in Maple Mount is a women’s retreat led by Ursuline Sister Cheryl Clemons.
This fall, Sister Cheryl will share her wealth of spiritual knowledge in another retreat, this one for men and women. On Oct. 18-20, 2019, at the Mount Saint Joseph Conference and Retreat Center, Sister Cheryl is leading “Following Jesus: God Loves Us In Spite Of …”
“The recognition of the theme has been present in all my retreat weekends. …One of the things I always try to point out is that the biblical characters and women saints are HUMAN, which means they have flaws like us, but that doesn’t prevent God from working in their lives,” Sister Cheryl said. “This retreat topic just turns the spotlight as a major theme on one of the quieter but always-present threads of every retreat weekend I’ve done. The only difference beyond a matter of emphasis is the inclusion of men in the group.”
Sister Cheryl will provide numerous examples of ordinary men and women from the Gospels who prove that God loves us not because we’re perfect, but because we’re chosen.
“God reaches out to us NOT because we get it right all the time but because we need divine help to get it right any of the time!” Sister Cheryl said.
“The stories of these Gospel men and women offer a promise: Just as the weaknesses, failures, illnesses and faults of his first disciples did not block his love, so today Jesus continues to call and love imperfect people,” she said. “Just as he entrusted his church to these flawed but graced human beings in the first century, so today he entrusts his church to us as flawed but graced Christians in the 21st century.”
Sister Cheryl is vice president of Academic Affairs and Academic Dean at Brescia University in Owensboro. She holds a doctorate from the Catholic University of America in historical theology-systematics, with minors in women’s theology and medieval church history. She has twice served the Ursuline community in elected leadership, and routinely gives talks to church groups and others.
“I’ve worked with mixed groups (men and women) through most of my ministerial life – in Renew, diocesan committees and programs, RCIA and Brescia,” she said. “Leading women’s retreats was the aberration that become the norm. Some men began to express an interest in such retreat opportunities, so I was more than happy to comply and offer a co-ed retreat. The men in the gospels, for example, are as useful for our faith development as the women we’ve prayed with in the past. It seemed that it might be spiritually fruitful to bring together both the women and men of the gospels and women and men at the retreat to expand and deepen our insight into God.”
Among the Gospel stories Sister Cheryl will share are:
- The apostles Peter and James and the women friends of Jesus – Mary Magdalene and Martha of Bethany
- The blind Bartimaeus and the cowardly Nicodemus
- The Samaritan Woman and Luke’s “woman who was a sinner”
- The parents Jairus and the Canaanite Woman, the chronically ill Gerasene Demoniac and the Bleeding Woman
- Doubting Thomas and the discouraged Andrew.
During this retreat weekend, participants will be invited to reflect on the following questions:
- What can these Gospel men and women teach me about how I’m called today to live out the virtue of courage?
- After naming a personality defect that impedes Gospel witness, what can these Gospel people teach me about how I can both grow in acceptance and minimize its negative impact?
- Is there anything in my life that I believe disqualifies me from God’s love? What can these Gospel stories teach me about this belief?
- What can these Gospel men and women teach me about coping with illness, loss and failure?
- How can I deepen my relationship with Jesus based on what these Gospel people have taught me?
There will be time for quiet reflection and sharing, as well as celebration of the sacraments of Reconciliation and Eucharist. The retreat opens at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 18, and concludes with Mass and lunch on Sunday, Oct. 20.
The cost for a single resident is $190 which includes retreat, meals and lodging. The cost for double occupancy is $320. The cost for a commuter is $90 which includes retreat and meals. (Get a 10% discount if paid by September 18)
What: Co-Ed Retreat: Following Jesus led by Sister Cheryl Clemons
When: 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 18, and concludes with Mass and lunch on Sunday, Oct. 20.
Cost: The cost for a single resident is $190 which includes retreat, meals and lodging. The cost for double occupancy is $320. The cost for a commuter is $90 which includes retreat and meals. (Get a 10% discount if paid by September 18)