Shake Pray Love | Spring Retreat

Have you ever seen your professor shakin his booty?  Well, I have.  That image will remain with me always from the spring retreat, The Sacredness of Self-Care for the Emerging Professional. All of us, even Fr. Brian McDermott S.J., were dancing and shaking to African drum music!  It is apparently a technique used to alleviate depression.   Any time I need a lift, I can recall that mental image of my Spiritual Direction professor shakin’ what his momma gave him, and it will make me smile.

I anticipated the retreat held at The Shrine of St. Anthony in Ellicott City ever since Monique Daniels, Continuing Education Coordinator, (mcdaniels@loyola.edu) emailed the announcement for at least three reasons: (a) one of my favorite instructors, Fr. Brian McDermott S.J., was presenting, (b) it was being held at one of the most serene and picturesque spots in the area, and (c) practicing self-care for me and preaching it to others is one of my passions.   

It did not disappoint!

I actually got some quiet prayer time in around the excitement of the day.  What a blessing it was walking in silent contemplation around the Grotto to Our Lady!

Grotto to Our LadyAs I strolled through the Shrine’s bucolic grounds I made friends with the chickens.  Wouldn’t St. Francis be proud?

Friendly FowlThe library is my favorite indoor spot with its cozy fireplace.  I have been there on two other occasions for retreats.  The last time was on a chilly day in March.  While we kept the fire blazing by adding log after log, I curled up right next to it.  I never wanted to leave. When I realized that my group was meeting in there and I would get to revisit the spot, it added to my bliss.

Narrative artwork hung all over the monastery.  Its stories instructed and inspired me.  Especially intriguing were the series of paintings on the life of St. Anthony that graced the hallway’s walls.  Apparently he was quite a preacher.  So much so that legend has it that even the creatures wanted to hear him.  The painting shows even the fish jumping out of the water to lend an ear as St. Anthony speaks!

My sense of love for and belonging to the Loyola community strengthened that day.  My classmates and I bonded over sharing our wisdom and survival tips of self-care.  Honestly though, I am not sure if I am more consoled, or more freaked out over having to write my thesis next year, but at least I will have a plethora of self-care tools in my toolbox to see me through. 

I grew from the encounters I had with classmates from other departments thanks to a grant from The Foundation for Spirituality and Medicine students in Pastoral Counseling, Speech Pathology, and School Counseling all took the self-care journey with us free of charge.

I got to see a different side to Dr. Tom Rodgerson, Director of the M.A. Program, who will see me through Pastoral Care Integration and Pastoral Care Professional Seminar next year.   He told some interesting anecdotes about himself that were really endearing regarding his younger motorcycling days and his father who was a pastor.  If you want the details, you will have to ask him yourself.  I will never tell…

My Win-Win-Win Journey to Loyola

Why grad school at Loyola now when I am 47 years old you may ask?  I have always had a heart for service.  I have had various jobs in my adult life, but none that I would call a career.  My family always came first, I must admit, although that is not very modern of me.  I went to undergrad two times: the first time to University of Dallas (UD) in Irving, TX, obtaining a B.A. in French Literature and the second time to University of Central Florida earning a B.S. in Psychology where I took some Masters level courses and joined a research team.  I found Psychology lacking in spirituality, moreover, I craved and felt called to something faith-based.

After undergrad, I did a year of service where I met my son’s father.  We married and moved to Contra Costa County, CA. Five years later, I moved back to the East Coast.  While there, I married my current husband and we became involved in a large, vibrant Catholic Parish called Ascension Catholic Community in Melbourne, FL.  I rekindled my faith at Ascension.  I participated in a retreat/formation process called Christ Renews His Parish (CRHP).  I still meet with my sisters in Christ (the ladies of CRHP Team 24) via Skype most Tuesday evenings at 7:00.

Feeling as if we had “retired” too young in Melbourne, FL, where the median age is 62, my husband and I took an opportunity to move to the Baltimore area when he was offered a better job by Northrop Grumman.  It was a win-win-win situation.  My husband had a great new job, I was now able to pursue a career that I could believe in by pursing an M.A. with Loyola in Spiritual and Pastoral Care, and my son had many opportunities in Maryland post graduation from Florida State.

I am excited to see what the future holds for me in Ministry.  I am volunteering in various capacities at some local Catholic parishes and at Beans and Bread.  I aim to see what type of ministry for which I am best suited.  I am on the spiritual direction track, and I am doing my internship at this time.  It is challenging, rewarding, and exciting.  I knew after taking Spiritual Direction last semester that I was on the right track for me.  I meet with my directees monthly to gain experience.  My spiritual direction supervision course is at another great Catholic university, Washington Theological Union which unfortunately is closing its doors this month due to financial issues.