Anglican Women Leadership Retreat
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Go forth to serve the Lord
Quiet time in the courtyard
Delray Beach, FL;
St. Mary the Virgin Church, Delray Beach, Florida hosted an Anglican Women's Leadership Retreat. The Daughters of St. Mary's, in cooperation with the Anglican Catholic Church (ACC), sponsored this event for leading women of the Church in order to encourage and empower them in their ministries. Thirty three women, representing nine parishes of the Anglican Province of America and the ACC, attended.
The retreat was conducted by Lisa Marion, O/OSB, of St. Matthew's Church, Newport Beach, California. Mrs. Marion, using the lens of Benedictine spirituality, guided the women through contemplation on their roles as women in the traditional Anglican Church. The retreat was conducted as a quiet day, giving all the opportunity to reflect in silence in order to hear that still, small voice, which is our God guiding by His Holy Spirit.
The participants began their day celebrating the Holy Communion. Fr. Erich Zwingert, rector of St. Mary's Church, remarked how beautiful, and unusual, it was to hear only women's voices lifting up in prayer. The first session dwelt upon the theme of obedience and how it is one's obedience to God by which He meets the needs of others. An essay on obedience from The Oblate Life was a directed reading for reflection. A spiritual gifts inventory was given to the women to provide for some direction on where their ministerial strengths might lie. Lunch was a time of fellowship with the participants "mixing it up" by sitting and eating with others they did not know. The afternoon sessions began with a discussion of stability and how God works through the grace of time. Stability acts to calm our natural restlessness. An essay on stability from The Oblate Life was the directed reading for this session. The third session focused on the necessity of rules in life and how it is significant to have a Rule in our spiritual lives as well. The participants were encouraged to develop a personal Rule to include daily prayer and Bible Study. Evening Prayer concluded the formal portion of the retreat. Mrs. Marion gave her closing remarks, encouraging the women to stand ready and answer God's call in their lives for the spreading of His Kingdom. Fr. Zwingert dismissed the participants with the laying on of hands for the grace, mercy, and consolation of the Holy Spirit to be with them as they went out to serve the Lord and His Church.
Many of the women involved remarked that this was the first time they had ever made a retreat, let alone practiced silence. One woman wrote that, during the silence, her "thoughts were everywhere," yet the peacefulness was a blessing to her. Another said that this was an "outstanding day of fellowship and teaching," while one simply, and succinctly, stated, "This was truly a gift." Lisa Marion's incredible skills as a retreat leader were remarked upon constantly.
One of the components built into the retreat was ensuring that the women put aside their "Martha" roles and focused on being "Mary," quietly absorbing the presence of their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The men of St. Mary's Church facilitated this by setting out lunch, cooking a fine dinner, and keeping the women out of the kitchen (which, as some admitted, was rather difficult!).
All the retreatants came away from the day with greater insight into their spiritual lives and the gifts they have to offer Christ and His Church. A further blessing was the realization on the part of many of the women that the divisions which unfortunately plague the traditional Anglican movement in our country need to be put aside. As one woman boldly spoke to Fr. Zwingert, "Tell the men to get their act together to make us one, for we will act as one from this day forward." On a day in which hearts were open to the guiding of the Holy Spirit, Fr. Zwingert responded to her, "In you, I think, the Holy Spirit has spoken."
Posted: 3/23/2012 3:30 PM