Monday, September 21, 2009

My retreat in PA over the week end

Now updated AGAIN to include some quotes...

The retreat at St. Mary's in Hamburg, PA was wonderful. Women from all over the diocese filled the huge beautiful church. Faith was shared and women discovered and rediscovered their God-given gifts and dignity.

The "Day of Spirituality" was titled: "Thirsting for the Living Water: On the Dignity and Vocation of Women." My talks were: "Meeting Jesus at the Well," "The Perfect Woman: Dealing with Society's Demands," and "Awareness of a Mission: Our Call to Evangelization."

I spoke much about the amazing Apostolic Letter to Women, "Mulieris Dignitatem: On the Dignity and Vocation of Women" penned a little over twenty years ago by Pope John Paul the Great, a wonderful hero and promoter of women. I also wove a lot of Blessed Mother Teresa's spirituality throughout the day.

We even had a free "raffle" and three women won their choice of copies of my books. Two of the winners chose to wait to receive their prizes, choosing my newest book: Mother Teresa and Me: Ten Years of Friendship which will be released soon.

The day opened with a welcome and opening prayer from Rev. Donald W. Cieniewicz, Pastor at St. Mary and opening comments by Rev. E. Michael Camilli, M. S. C., Secretary, Catholic Life and Evangelization. The new bishop, Bishop John Barres who was a promoter of the event could not be present because he was attending "bishop school" in Rome at the time, we were told.

Here is a photo of Diane Arnold and me. Diane had been reading my books and contacted me quite some time ago about the possibility of visiting her area and with her efforts, God's grace, and the work of a whole commission of women representing the Diocese of Allentown, PA, the retreat day: "Women's Day of Spirituality" became a reality.

Pictured here are Helen Nowak, a freshmen physician's assistant major (in blue), me, Maggie Riggins, Assistant Director of Campus Ministry at DeSales University (in peach), and Mary Simonea sophomore mathematics and secondary education major, (in white). They traveled from De Sales University to share the day with us.

Afterwards by email, Maggie Riggins, Assistant Director of Campus Ministry at DeSales University graciously shared some reflections with me of some of the essential messages from my talks from the "Women's Day of Spirituality" that she took away with her.

She said, "The message from the Gospel story of Jesus and the Woman at the Well really inspired me to reflect on important spiritual questions: Am I focusing too much on other things that I do not notice Jesus offering me the Living Water? Do I focus on the present moment and how I can encounter Jesus in the here and now? How can I be "Jesus in the flesh" in giving the Living Water to others?

"Remembering Mary as our Model on how to live - and that is through our giving of love to others.

"Believing that we are called to be salt of the earth and a light to the world and not to be afraid to let our light shine. And the need to ask God for awareness and courage to show our gifts.

"Also, your presentations have really laid the outline for the DeSales Women's Retreat weekend for 2010! In addition to the Gospel story of Jesus and the Woman at the Well, the DeSales Women's Retreat will also explore how Jesus encountered other women... The Woman caught in Adultery, Mary and Martha, Mary at the Cross and Mary Magdalene at the Tomb. Your talk was very inspiring and my papers are full of wonderful notes that I will cherish for a very long time! Thanks again and may God continue to bless your ministry.

It was refreshing for me to see women of every age attend this gathering that had been planned for quite some time. I am constantly encouraged when I encounter women who are craving to discover and understand more about their faith and their Church. There is so much richness for all of us to learn and apply to our lives.

Marge Collins, part of the women's commission who had been in touch with me over several months in planning the event had this to say: "Mrs. O'Boyle's message to the women of the Diocese emphasized two very important aspects of women's spirituality which often seem in conflict in the modern world: that women possess unique God-given gifts which have an enormous impact on humanity and that these gifts can often be put to use in the most ordinary of circumstances. Her examples from the life of Mother Teresa of Calcutta illustrated this point. In our drive for achievement and perfection, we need to be reminded of Mother Teresa's words that God doesn't call us to be successful, only faithful."

I wish I had other photos to show you here, but these are the only two that were sent to me after the event thus far. The Allentown Diocesan newspaper will be publishing a story about the event and their photographer was present to catch a lot of the event. I'll try to link an article to a post when I receive it.

The Women's Commission offered prayer in thanksgiving for the inspiring gifts of faith and fellowship that we shared that day and for a deeper spiritual understanding of the dignity and vocation of women everywhere.


  1. Sounds wonderful. Sorry I was not able to make it!

  2. Thanks for stopping by here, Elena Maria! It was truly wonderful! I wish you could have been there. Someday...

    I hope and pray that all is well.

    God bless and hugs!

  3. Donna, what a successful event! I am so glad you are out there affecting others with your positive words. I know it's a lot of work to write and speak but God is calling you to it and you are doing a commendable job. Thanks for the recap, sharing feedback, etc. I hope someday we'll have a chance to present together. :) Something to dream about for now.

    Many blessings...


  4. Thanks, Roxane! You are very kind. Yes, wouldn't it be wonderful to present together some day?

    God bless you and yours,


  5. My daughter, Helen, told me about the retreat. And we were so happy she was able to attend. Thanks for posting the picture, as I'm 1700 miles away!

    One tiny thing: her last name is spelled "Nowak."

    Debbie Nowak

  6. It's nice to hear from you, Debbie. You gave a beautiful daughter! I'm glad that Helen enjoyed her time at the retreat.

    Sorry about the typo! I fixed it. :)

    God bless!


I welcome your comments, thanks for stopping by! :)