Welcome UW-Stout Students! Retreat Time for Young Adults

Table at St. Jane House

— at St. Jane House.

The table is set to welcome eleven University of Wisconsin-Stout students for an overnight retreat inspired by the St. Frances de Sales quote “Be who you are and be that well.” Sister Katherine Mullin and Visitation Companion Brian Mogren will facilitate this retreat that will ask the question, “Who are we, really? And how are we uniquely called forth to make a difference in the world?” We will explore the concepts of True Self/False Self and accessing our True Selves through contemplative prayer/meditation. Looking forward to our time with these young people!

“Who are we, really? And how are we uniquely called forth to make a difference in the world?”


Interested in bringing a group to the St. Jane House for a retreat of this nature? We’d love to have you! Contact us and let’s talk…


-S. Katherine Mullin (Vocations Director):  katherinefmullin@gmail.com

Word of Mouth-Something to Meditate On

Written by Elizabeth Eilers Sullivan, Visitation Alumna

Sunday we attended mass at Ascension. After listening to Father Michael O’Connell’s voice read the Gospel with beauty and conviction we listened to him unpack the following scene:

Where did this man get all this?
What kind of wisdom has been given him?
What mighty deeds are wrought by his hands!
Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary,
and the brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon?
And are not his sisters here with us?”
And they took offense at him.”

Father Michael O’Connell, paused, looked at us, and began to speak of addictions that hold us back, or that might be our “thorn,” to heal from to become whole, able to do God’s will here. Then he became quite serious. He said, “I think our country has an epidemic happening, and the epidemic is talking about people in unkind, unjust ways.” He continued, “The most dangerous weapon I know, and for me to say this in the context of north Minneapolis says something, is right here!” He pointed at his mouth. Silence filled the congregation.

How do we cease this epidemic from continuing? How do we stop it from being passed on to the next generation?

Father O’Connell then lovingly invited us to use our mouths, our voice for love, for healing, for spreading the good news about ourselves and one another. And to let go of what has become a “knee-jerk reaction” in our country of looking for people’s short comings.

I might add to this invitation to not tolerate others talking ill about others in your presence. It is each of our duties to invite one another to use our mouths for the greater good of our community. For far too often what we say becomes not only our perceptions but then our reality. Think with care, and speak with care.

How can you curb the tendency to speak ill-will in your life? How can you use your voice for beauty, for love, for healing, for justice and compassion?

Expectation & Intention

Written by Elizabeth Eilers Sullivan, Visitation Alumna

What is the difference between the two you might ask, (and I had some ask after my last post regarding attachment)?

With intentions you imagine and invite what you hope for into your life or situation, but there is room, sometimes ample room for different outcomes to present itself. In short, you are not attached to the outcome, because you trust that the outcome is what it is.

Expectations are not as fluid as intentions. Usually when we have expectations we are more married to the outcome matching what we expect and when it does not we become dissappointed, angry, or upset that it did not go our way. This often leads to our suffering. Suffering usually occurs when we can not accept our present moment because we were attached to what we wanted the present to be, and it is not the present that is before us.

The role of intention is important! If we want to become our best selves, then inviting ourselves into what we intend, what we hope, and how we envision to share our gifts with others is important. We need to set the intentions and be in dialogue with our intentions as they organically shift and come into being.

What are you intending for your life? How do you bring your intentions to prayer? How do you invite others into your intentions? Please share so we may all grow from one another’s wisdom and support your intentions into being.

No thanks!

Written by Elizabeth Eilers Sullivan, Visitation Alumna

With our life’s discernment, it is good to take heed about what we have learned that we do not like. Instead of finding this frustrating that once again we find ourselves not loving our work, let’s flip it into an invitation of yet another thing to check off, “No thanks, this is not for me.”

These glimpses into what we find draining us of energy, or avoiding can inform what we need to prune away from our life in order to make room for what we are being called toward.

Often, without awareness, we continue in our tried patterns, our tired treads, because it is habitual and not because it is life giving. When we take the time to pause and ask ourselves why am I resisting this? Or why do I find upon waking I have little energy to attend to my job at hand, whatever that may be, we can gain insight into our discernment–that if left unquestioned we would never gain the wisdom our life is asking of us.

In short, what we dislike, or dare I say hate, is just as important to pay attention to, as to what we often are asked to consider–what gives us joy.

So give thanks for what you do not like! Say Amen, let go. And move on to what does give you joy! You and your community will be better for it in the long run! Take courage and press on!

Visitation Has Style

Written by Elizabeth Eilers Sullivan, Visitation Alumna

Last Monday I went back to Visitation Mendota to witness another alumna, Liz Edwards Hewitt, tell the Visitation students her story of surviving breast cancer. A story which led to her deep conviction that it is imperative to advocate for your health. She wanted to catch their attention and decided a good way to do so was to cut her hair on stage for Locks of Love and Beautiful Lengths. As she planned this all-school convocation she invited others to participate. One hair cut on stage led to 33 haircuts of students, faculty, staff, and even parents contributing their hair for people who need wigs due to cancer, alopecia or other medical reasons.

I sat on the steps of the auditorium with my three younger boys and watched as my former teacher and basketball coach, Connie Colon Parsley, cut Liz’s pony tail, and listened to Liz say, “Look around you, the relationships you make here are important. They will carry you through your life. Take care of them.” As I sat in that auditorium, my coat still on, and a hat on my head because of my own alopecia my spirit swelled to be part of this community. To still be in relationship with Visitation through my own friends, through the sisters, and through the school in Mendota Heights and the Monastery in north Minneapolis.

Sr. Mary Paula, stood and shared how she is a breast cancer survivor and what it meant to be able to get a wig when she lost her hair so many years ago. As my boys and I took in the morning, I wanted to say to the students there:

Liz is right it is the relationships that carry you through the joyous and difficult moments of life. While I do not have cancer, but alopecia, I never realized how much hair, having it, losing it, giving it away can define you. But it doesn’t have to define you. You do not have to shrink away from the spot light because of an illness. Nor do you have to explain it. Your beauty comes from that deep reservoir of beauty inside of yourself, your spirit. My spirit is brighter having known the Visitation Sisters, having been steeped in the Salesian tradition, and having been sent out in the world to share the Visitation spirit and tradition with others.

My heart swelled that morning as I watched 33 women donate their hair and 33 stylists dedicate their time to cut and style them. At one point a friend of mine, who was on stage, held her cut locks in a bag and looked in my direction, and winked. Tears brimmed as I basked in her act of sweet solidarity.

I invite you into relationship with the Sisters of the Visitation, like so many of their relationships in north Minneapolis it can start by simply ringing their doorbell.

Young Adult Engagement: Call and Response

BYA Discernment Group*

Young Adults from the Basilica join the Vis Sisters for a day of prayer and reflection

by Melissa Borgmann-Kiemde, Visitation Companion

On the heels of Sr. Katherine and my trip to Chicago for the “Catholics On Call” Partner Conference entitled, “Engaging Young Adults in Church Vocations” I started mentoring two young adults in their journey as Visitation Companions. It’s no small coincidence in my mind that God would have these ventures line up. The former, a powerful opportunity to glean information about the millennial generation of Catholics, hold looming questions about engagement in the church and posit best practices, all the while connecting on a national scale with others in outreach ministry; the latter, a real-life opportunity to live the complexity and gift of relational ministry and apply what feels to be some best practices in formation: sharing stories, unpacking structured prayer practices and Salesian teaching,  and living in the mystery of our Catholic faith.

I think of these experiences as both a call and response to deeply live my Catholic faith. I share a bit of my reflections here.

***

“The Millenial generation is living in a Web 2.0 culture.” said Paul Jarzembowski, Executive Director of the National Catholic Young Adult Ministry Association (NCYAMA). This CAC panelist, a young adult himself, characterized his generation as one that’s plugged in, and living a “pressure cooker” reality. The response by outreach ministers both lay and religious is to “provide sanctuary to these young adults.”  A place of “silence, certainty and security” is what young adults are craving.

timone davis

Fellow CAC panelist, timone davis, from the archdiocese of Chicago and coordinator of ReCil, (Reclaiming Christ in Life, Young Adult Ministry for the Archdiocese of Chicago)  invited all ministers to share their stories and to create spaces for young adults to likewise tell theirs. “We need to share our faith experiences,” she said,”[unpacking how we find God in our midst] and find our story within the Christian story.”

“Every baptized person has a role and we need to awaken a sense of call among all the baptized.” —Fr. Robyn Ryan, C.P., Founding Director of Catholics on Call

With the daunting statistics that 75 – 85% of young adult Catholics are non-practicing and not-engaged, founding director of Catholics on Call, Fr. Robyn Ryan, C.P. invited all conference participants to focus on ecclesial vocations – both lay and religiousand creating a culture of service in the church. Underscoring the invitation to all members of the church, he said, “every baptized person has a role and we need to awaken a sense of call among all the baptized.”

Embracing Young Adult Vis Intern Beth Anne

Embracing Young Adult Vis Intern Beth Anne

Two questions that Fr. Ryan posed during his talk really struck home with me in a prayerful way:
1) “Should we focus our energies on the minority group of more active young adults?” and

2) “Are the young adults who are open to vocational discernment those of a more traditional mindset? And if so, how do we respond?”

These inspired scholarly presentations, coupled with the vocational narratives of three featured young adults, (a sister, monk and lay campus minister) shaped my “take-away” points from the conference:

  • To engage all young (and old) adults within and without the Catholic church, the opportunity to be quiet, engaged in structured prayer so that the stories of God in our midst might surface and be shared, would be helpful.
  • Extending invitations to participate in service opportunities is essential for the dis-engaged to find ways back into authentic ministry and faith-filled expression. (The Visitation Internship Program is one larger example of this.)
  • Creating spaces for story-telling as well as direct instruction on the tenants of our faith are important for all participants, as the need for sanctuary and certainty are honored, and the presence of God as security is known.
  • Cultivating a safe community of critically-thinking, non-judgemental participants who can celebrate the tenants of their faith and church — as well as share their frustrations within the church, and work to heal, while serving — is a strategy or by-product of story-telling and service groups.
  • The compassionate embrace of the religious habit as both a literal and figurative marker for security and structure desired by young adult discerners is also helpful.  (Read: As a young adult in the church, I grew up without a lot of structure, ritual or form. I need a habit to hold me together.  I want this external sign of my faith, as well as the internal order of the day, to anchor me.)

***

At the invitation of Sr. Mary Frances, I discerned a call to this awesome role as Visitation Companion mentor, and after much prayer, a few tears, and a bit of assuaged fear, I said, “Yes.” I feel hugely blessed to be able to participate in the formation of Sonja and Fabio as two inspired people who long to live their faith more intentionally within a Christian community. Serving as a mentor is a humbling experience as I run smack into my own limitations and am lifted through the grace of God and the Spirit present with these two mentees to a new place of relational understanding and love of God.  It’s a call I have in the church, as well as a response to love and practice my faith. It seems to be a mutually beneficial experience that invigorates our Salesian presence in this world.