July 2019 marked the third summer retreat for Religious 55 ish and under in Canada. These experiences have proven to be a gift and blessing for those attending and for our communities. Habits of the Heart, the theme for this summer, guided our thoughts, prayers and conversations. Fr. Ron Rolheiser, omi, invited us to spend time during our retreat reflecting on What’s your faith story – what’s your call? Why are you sitting here this week?
I appreciated the time to reflect on that question. We also had an opportunity to share our story with others during the retreat. Our calls are as unique as we are and there is no one way that God calls us to our vocation. Some of us have been called through significant experiences or invitations from people. Others have found themselves attentive to God’s call from the “fire or the fog” (Fr. DeBona, OSB).
After the retreat, followed by a few more days in Canada, I left for our retreat house in Santa Cruz, CA. In addition to this being one of the most beautiful places, it also holds a significant place in my heart on my journey as a religious.
In the spring of 2009, I was sent to a gathering /retreat here in Santa Cruz to deepen my understanding of our foundress. At the time I was the Campus Minister for our SNJM school and was passively considering religious life. The experience during that week exposed me to many new dimensions of our foundress, the charism, the congregation and how my story also fit into it.
All of this was days before my 39th Birthday and I was absorbing this information about our foundress, Blessed Marie-Rose Durocher, like a sponge. I felt a closeness to her that I had never experienced before. As I reflected on her life; gifts and challenges, she became real to me. Her deep love and trust in Jesus and Mary, while she faithfully forged ahead to meet the needs of her time, even though she died at age 39, was radical discipleship.
During that week, I recall walking along the beach, looking out to the ocean and listening to music on my mp3 (yes, you read correctly). A song came on by one of my favourite groups, who happen to be Canadian, Great Big Sea. I heard the lyrics to the song like never before. The song was, Walk on the Moon. And the refrains says, “Now, I’m alive. I got one shot and I’m taking this on you”. It was as though I knew at that moment, God was calling me with my unique gifts and strengths to do something that no one else can do. And I was being called to do it as religious. I just knew that, “this is my one small step. This was my walk on the moon.”
Each time I return to this place, I walk the beach and listen to that song. Even though living as a religious is challenging and I’m not always happy, my life has meaning. I know this is still my walk on the moon.
Here’s the link to the song.
Article by: Sr. Michelle Garlinski, SNJM (below)