Several months ago I received an email about a Catholic women’s retreat sponsored by the Military Council of Catholic Women (MCCW), which I am able to belong to while we are stationed overseas. I’ve gotten these emails over the years, and honestly, I’ve never given them a second thought. But something about this one caught my eye, and I was curious to find out if anyone else I knew was going, as I was too nervous to go alone to Germany and attend my first retreat.
At the 11th hour, I found out that two women and my parish priest would also be attending, and it was like all the little ducks quickly fell into line. I would attend my first Catholic retreat, in Bavaria, with friends. I was excited about the topic, “Totus Tuus, Totally Yours.” I was ready for 5 days away, in one of my favorite places in the world, with time for reflection and prayer.
The weekend did not disappoint, on so many levels. I got time with one of my best friends Rachel, the recipient of the Perfect Match Blanket who’s preparing to depart for the states in less than two weeks. I grew closer to another woman from our parish, Francine. I spent time with our parish priest, Father John, for the first time–and honestly, I learned so much just from spending time with him outside of the chapel. I met and mingled with women from bases around Europe, including connecting with several women from other British bases. I grew my network of those staying behind, while so many of my friends’ European adventures draw to a close.
I have grown so much in my faith and as a Catholic over the past year, and in many ways, this retreat was exactly what I needed to help me continue on my journey. The speakers were thought-provoking and inspiring, and I was blessed with some time for adoration, meditation, reflection, and prayer. It was much needed.
I also got to spend time in a gorgeous location, awestruck by how faith-filled the region was, with so many Catholic Churches and road signs that note when you can attend Mass. And of course, the food and the beer was plentiful and delicious!
Coming back from retreat wasn’t easy, I quickly learned. You go away and have all these ideas and want to change and do so much, but when you come home, the laundry still needs to be done, and you can’t simply decide you’re going to change your entire family structure and focus overnight. So making small changes to grow in faith and lead my children has been my focus. I’ve read “The Domestic Church” upon my return, and that’s helped me begin to see my calling as a wife and a mother in a new light, though it’s still a challenge.
Finally, the retreat helped prepare me for moving season. A stronger faith will be able to help guide me through a hundred goodbyes and changes.
At least that’s what I keep telling myself.
This retreat truly was a huge blessing in my life, and I know thirty years from now, I’ll look back on it as a life-changing event. It was inspirational.