The Holy Spirit is at work all across our diocese
By Shawn Hanson
Eucharistic Revival Committee Chair
By Shawna Hanson Eucharistic Revival Committee Chair Several months ago, I was inspired by the example of Anne Lyon in Martin. She shared with me that she had been praying and had come to the realization that if she was called to share her faith with others that it should begin with the people she knew best — fellow teachers. Her story of acting on this inspiration was highlighted in the November issue of West River Catholic in an article titled “Hometown Study Groups.” As I traveled the diocese with the relics of Bl. Carlos Acutis and St. Manuel Gonzalez in October, I realized Anne is not alone. The Holy Spirit is at work all across our diocese in the homes and in the hearts of God’s people and when they say yes to him, amazing things can happen.
At Holy Cross Church in Timber Lake, I visited with Becky Maciejewski. She inspired me with this story of four women in the Timber Lake/Firesteel area who all married farmers/ranchers in the area and have been meeting together for the past six years. “We have developed a special bond as sisters in Christ. We like to refer to ourselves as spiritual companions,” Becky says. “We all need spiritual nourishment and female companionship. Our Bible studies, although varied in terms of the specific areas of our faith they touch on, provide that mixture of ‘girl time’ and ‘God time’ for us. It’s an opportunity to really sit with God as we go through the readings and reflections each day and grow in our personal faith. And when we meet as a group, it’s another opportunity to share and learn from each other, our varied perspectives and life experiences and to grow in our friendship both with God and each other. It has really been a rich and beautiful gift,” Kristen Gill adds.
During the summer of 2022, they decided to try a new four-week long retreat book called, “Set the World on Fire” by Vinita Hampton Wright. It was unanimous that all four of us were loving this book.” The book grabbed Kristen right away in the simplicity but yet the depth of the content. “The author has an amazing gift of putting words on paper that are so easy to read but yet so profound if you take the time to reflect on them.”
As they read and studied, perhaps the four women doctors were also at work – interceding and praying for them, because as it turns out, the Holy Spirit was gently nudging Becky to do more than just read this book and talk to her friends about it. As Kristen says, “The Holy Spirit had a plan I guess and thankfully, we were open to it.” Becky knew there was talk at their parish about hosting a women’s retreat again, because it had been 6 years since the last one in the area. “The Holy Spirit planted the seed in my mind that this personal retreat/book study we were doing would be the perfect topic for a one-day retreat. I was nervous to ask the other three ladies if they would be willing to help put on a retreat, but they all said ‘Yes!’”
“When Becky first suggested we try to put this study in a format to present as a women’s retreat, I was open but a little afraid. Who are we to tell others how to grow in their faith? What makes us experts on these women or the faith? Will it be boring? Will it come off as if we don’t know what we are talking about? Will we be considered a fraud because of the impurities in our own lives? So many questions the devil tends to put in our heads. But we just took it one step at a time, and it all came together fairly seamlessly. The Holy Spirit was definitely at work because no way could we have put it together as quickly and solidly as we did on our own. Every part of it has felt divinely cared for,” Kristen added.
Each of the four women in the study agreed to take one of the women doctors, study them and do a presentation at a one-day retreat for women in their area. Forty-six women attended the retreat in Timber Lake, and the four were blown-away by the positive responses of those in attendance. Christa Biegler shares, “There were many things that struck me about how this retreat moved the hearts of the women in attendance, but the biggest one is that we are all seeking our purpose. Our calling and our mission and marching orders from God.”
“We hadn’t planned on doing this more than once, but I read in a Facebook comment that women in Faith were wondering if we would be willing to travel. We were invited to Faith by their Catholic Daughters Association, and presented the retreat to 17 more women,” Becky said.
On February 11, they will once again share the gift of this short retreat at Terra Sancta Retreat Center (see the ad p. 6 for details). They hope many women of all ages will come, but particularly young moms. Megan Bickel shares, “When I was a young mother and going through life, exhausted, rundown, and feeling overwhelmed a close family friend said to me, ‘keep going to Bible studies, it’s women like you — young moms who feel as though their lives are crazy and hectic and overwhelming that need to participate in the Bible study to make sure that their cups are being filled.’”
Finally, Christa said, “The female doctors of the church are simply women in history that have overcome the odds and show us encouragement and inspiration for what’s possible with God in our daily lives. As we all said in preparing for the retreat, each saint chose us. Will you come along with us on Feb 11 and meet the Saint who is speaking to you?”