Two simple words that acknowledge the inadequacy of human intellect to comprehend everything that is God.
Looking to Him from a place of wonderment, trust and total reliance was the premise of St. Stanislaus parish’s Women’s Ecumenical Lenten Retreat, held March 31 in Wardsville.
“Life can be a busy mess, so put your seatbelt on and trust in His grace!” Stephanie Rankin, one of five presenters on the retreat, told the crowd.
“Have faith and know that The Great ‘I Am’ will find you, hold you, protect you and comfort you!” said presenter Jeanne Livers.
“In the midst of chaos, it is possible to find peace and rest with our Almighty God,” stated Millie Aulbur, another presenter.
About 200 women from throughout central Missouri, and as far away as the St. Louis area attended the retreat.
The theme was: “The Great ‘I Am’: Embracing the Power of God in Our Lives.”
Presenter LeAnn Korsmeyer pointed out that everyone has a purpose, “with plans and desires that God has written into our hearts.”
“Awaken the voice within you and experience the power of the ‘yes!’” she said.
She noted that in the Old Testament, God reveals Himself to Moses simply as “I Am.”
At the end of St. Matthew’s Gospel, before ascending into heaven, Jesus commissions His Apostles to go and make disciples of all nations, offering the assurance: “Behold, I AM (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) with you always, until the end of the age.”
At one point in the retreat, the women were asked to write down a special prayer intention and place it in a box with a small rock, a reminder that God is the foundation of all things.
The prayer boxes were collected. Later on, each woman received one of the boxes containing someone else’s prayer intention.
Each woman was asked to take the prayer box home, continuing to hold that other woman up in prayer while adding other prayer intentions to the box.
It was a reminder that all people stand together before God, so all of their stories, needs, desires and prayers are all connected.
“When we are mindful of God’s presence, we see that He is woven into our life stories,” said Mrs. Korsmeyer. “He is in the moments.”
God’s presence is often most clearly revealed in the homeless, the forgotten and the vulnerable, as well as in people’s individual life struggles.
“God is so powerful,” Mrs. Korsmeyer said, “and when we ask Him into our lives, we become the light that shines in a dark world.”
“Stronger in Christ”
A woman from Wentzville travelled 100 miles to attend the retreat, having been to the two annual retreats the parish previously held.
St. Stanislaus parishioner Lori Burnell has attended the last three women’s retreats offered at St. Stanislaus.
“It’s a good day filled with fellowship of other women from communities near and far, yearning for God’s love and compassion told through the stories of women,” she said.
She said she’s always amazed to see the outpouring of love and support that comes from this gathering.
“LeAnn and the St. Stanislaus team of women put their heart and soul into a faith-filled day for us women to devour,” she said.
Mrs. Rankin said it was a pleasure to be surrounded by women who have a passion for Christ.
“The retreat was amazing!” she said. “It reminded me that we are partners with God and to lean on Him, not only in good times but also through the trials. He always provides!”
“Also, when you are unsure of ‘what’s next’ in life, open up God’s word to let Him teach you and lead you,” she said.
Mrs. Korsmeyer said that given the state of the world, the nation and their local communities, it is now more important than ever for women to come together to encourage and support each other.
“When women are able to gather in a trusting and non-judgmental setting, we have a stronger sense of belonging and can embrace the value of who we are as women created in the image of God,” she stated.
“We are stronger in Christ when we walk together with Christ,” she said.
“Full of zeal”
Sister Kathleen Wegman of the School Sisters of Notre Dame and chancellor of the Jefferson City diocese said she hopes the people who heard her speak will remain aware of their unique gifts from God and be “open to the daily promptings of God’s Spirit in using those gifts for the good of others.”
The retreat’s organizers included: Mrs. Korsmeyer, Donna Bernskoetter, Karla Holzer, Linda Kleffner, Ann Kampeter, Chris Lock, Cindy Markway, Mary Markway, Suzette Mertens and Jamie Webb.
Sr. Kathleen called the organizers a gifted, faith-filled and committed group of Catholic women.
“They are full of zeal for mission and are committed to assisting women in using their gifts to build up the Body of Christ,” she said. “I have nothing but deep respect and gratitude for them.”