Lenten retreats for women offer opportunities to renew faith and encounter God

Women in the Diocese of Syracuse will have two opportunities to draw closer to the Lord at the annual Lenten retreats for women in March.

Western Region retreat
  The first retreat will be held Sat., March 14 at Holy Family Church in Syracuse. The event will be held from 7:15 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Registration will be held  from 7:15 a.m. until 9 a.m.  Mass will be held at 8 a.m., followed by the rosary, confession and breakfast.

   Chairperson Kathy Kreinheder said the retreat, “gives women a chance to collect themselves and have time to focus their attention on God’s love and the enormous possibilities of His grace. There’s so much that God wants for us. We need to be alert and aware of all the ways that God is reaching out to us.”

   Gloria Anson, president of the International Sacred Heart Apostolate, will give the presentation “Claiming the Grace.” “Gloria is highly respected and she gives talks all over the world,” remarked Kreinheder. “Her presentation will help us become aware of how God is reaching out to us in His merciful love. She’ll help us to heighten our awareness. She works with the Lord in a very intimate way — the things that she says are so spiritual, you feel lifted up after listening to her.”

   Kreinheder noted that last year close to 210 women attended the Lenten retreat. Besides offering the retreat at a different venue this year (it had been held at Holy Cross Church in DeWitt), registration will now be extended until 9 a.m. to accommodate women who travel long distances to attend the event.

   Kreinheder said women who have attended the retreat previously have “loved having the day. Especially because it’s only half a day — it’s easy to pull away from all your duties. They like the opportunity to focus on Lent.”

   She noted that the women enjoy the relaxed pace of the retreat. With Mass being celebrated at 8 a.m. this year, there will be more time to spend on confession, the rosary, quiet time, the Chaplet of Divine Mercy or perusing the materials offered by vendors. “They can tailor it to what they need,” said Kreinheder.

   “There are so many people that the Lord wants to touch,” she added. “It’s our hope that we can nudge people to see the possibilities.”

Southern Region retreat

   The idea to offer a Lenten retreat for women came from Cindy Frederick, co-chair of the annual Lenten Retreat for Women in the Southern Tier, five years ago, around the time of the annual women’s conference in Syracuse. “We knew at the time of the first conference that not all women would be able to attend the day-long conference, especially women from the Southern region,” said Frederick. “We thought that by offering them a local half-day retreat it would give them the spiritual boost we all need during Lent. For those who are able to attend the large conference, this day is a continuation for them of the spirit of the conference.”

   This year’s retreat in the Southern tier will be held at Our Lady of Good Counsel Church in Endicott on Sat., March 28, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. After registration, Mass will begin at 8:30 a.m. and will be followed by Adoration and prayer. Breakfast will be offered at 9:30 a.m. Confession and a closing prayer will be held from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m.

   A highlight of the retreat will be Father Michael Galuppi and Father Chris Ballard presenting a joint reflection on the retreat’s theme, “Seek Ye First the Kingdom of God.” (Mt 6:33)

   “We are hoping the shared reflection by Father Michael Galuppi and Father Chris Ballard will inspire us as women to look to find God’s will for our lives,” said Frederick. “As women we can be drawn in many directions with families, and all the busyness they bring. There are also jobs for many women on top of family responsibilities — we lead very busy lives. We are hoping for direction for settling our spirits to reflect on His plan, to trust Him with our lives, our decisions, especially as they relate to our families, our health, whatever life brings.”  

   Debra Matts, a parishioner of St. Anthony of Padua in Endicott, has attended three of the Lenten retreats. She said she continues to attend the retreats because they “allow me a time and space to immerse myself in God without the distractions of life. I love the silent prayer, confession, the Mass and rosary, the communal time with other women. The speakers have been phenomenal and so varied. Their life experiences bring home the way God’s presence is always in our lives.”

   Matts remarked that she comes away from the retreats with a renewed spirit. “We all have our struggles in life,” she said. “We look for direction in our faith when everything around us is gray. The retreats remind me I am not alone. I have the community of faith and God forever at my side.”

   Debbie Spanfelner, another parishioner of St. Anthony of Padua in Endicott, said she has attended several of the retreats and there is a reason why she has done so.

   “I continue to go religiously because I get so much out of the retreats,” she explained. “It provides an opportunity for fellowship and prayer. The speakers are inspirational and offer a wealth of information about our faith.”

   For more information and to register, email swc@syracusediocese.org. Or, mail your registration with the $15 fee payable to Diocese of Syracuse (note “Syracuse” or “Southern”  Retreat on the check) to: Women’s Commission c/o Diocese of Syracuse, 240 E. Onondaga St., Syracuse, N.Y. 13202. Please include your name and parish. Registration will also be available at the door.

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